When it comes to big time American corporate behemoths there are few more powerful than Apple. The Cupertino, California based iThing manufacturer is riding high after it was announced that the company would be replacing AT&T in the barometer of the economic elite that is the Dow Jones Industrial Average. When Apple talks people listen and CEO Tim Cook has joined the mounting opposition to Indiana’s anti-gay “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” Cook – who replaced the legendary Steve Jobs after his death – took to the media to denounce Indiana and other states with similar legislation in the works for discriminating against gays.
The Washington Post took a break from promoting America’s next foreign war to give prominent space to Cook for his op ed piece entitled “Pro-discrimination ‘religious freedom’ laws are dangerous” from which I excerpt:
There’s something very dangerous happening in states across the country.
A wave of legislation, introduced in more than two dozen states, would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors. Some, such as the bill enacted in Indiana last week that drew a national outcry and one passed in Arkansas, say individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law.
Others are more transparent in their effort to discriminate. Legislation being considered in Texas would strip the salaries and pensions of clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — even if the Supreme Court strikes down Texas’ marriage ban later this year. In total, there are nearly 100 bills designed to enshrine discrimination in state law.
These bills rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality.
Cook’s joining of the fray is more bad news for Indiana Governor Mike Pence, a man with big ambitions sitting on the outside of the 2016 Republican presidential race. Pence gambled that SB 101 would curry favor with the religious and social conservatives who are an integral part of the GOP base whose support is critical in the primaries. From all early indications Pence rolled snake eyes and Republican legislators in Indiana are in full damage control mode now.
It was an incredibly stupid political act if only for the bad timing. This weekend’s Final Four NCAA men’s basketball finale in Indianapolis ensures that the media spotlight will be on Pence and he will surely be crucified. The Governor hit the Sunday morning McNews circuit to defend his signing of the bill into law but despite his bravado he will have no choice but to cave in because Indiana stands to lose economically from his gambit.
Elections are elections but business is business and big corporations outside of Chick fil A and Hobby Lobby have an aversion to the public relations damage and subsequent loss of revenue for being perceived as not being inclusive. When Apple’s CEO comes out against you in the national media your trouble is just beginning. But it’s not as though Governor Pence doesn’t deserve everything that he gets for his sleazy manipulation of Christians and social conservatives to whore his office out for their support at the polls.