In a Washington Post op-ed piece on Sunday, Apple CEO Tim Cook slammed legislation allowing businesses to refuse service to individuals on religious grounds as “very dangerous,” saying, “America must be a land of opportunity for everyone.”
“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 has spoken out in the past about racial and sexual discrimination, speaking against a similar law in Arizona, (which was vetoed by the Governor of that state), and tweeted on Friday to express his, and Apple’s disappointment at a new law recently passed in Indiana.
Cook wrote that his opposition to the “wave of legislation” permitting businesses to discriminate is in no way contrary to his own religious beliefs.
“I have great reverence for religious freedom. As a child, I was baptized in a Baptist church, and faith has always been an important part of my life. I was never taught, nor do I believe, that religion should be used as an excuse to discriminate.”
Cook recalled his own childhood in the south, and recalled the effects of discrimination there.
“I remember what it was like to grow up in the South in the 1960s and 1970s. Discrimination isn’t something that’s easy to oppose. It doesn’t always stare you in the face. It moves in the shadows. And sometimes it shrouds itself within the very laws meant to protect us.”
Cook argued that discrimination was not only wrong, but also bad for business in states where the discrimination was permitted.
“America’s business community recognized a long time ago that discrimination, in all its forms, is bad for business. At Apple, we are in business to empower and enrich our customers’ lives. We strive to do business in a way that is just and fair. That’s why, on behalf of Apple, I’m standing up to oppose this new wave of legislation — wherever it emerges.”
Cook became the first openly gay CEO of a major company last year, and has used his visibility to champion the fight against discrimination.
Apple as a company has also championed diversity, publishing its first diversity report in 2014, participating in the San Francisco PRIDE parade last June, and earlier this month joining Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and other companies in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage across the country.