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Apple CEO Tim Cook Criticizes Pro-Discrimination 'Religious Freedom' Laws

The Indiana law is one of more than two dozen similar pieces of legislation under consideration around the country, Cook writes.

Asa Mathat

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook grew more vocal in his fight for equal rights, turning to the editorial pages of the Washington Post to condemn a wave of new legislation that he said would enshrine discrimination.

Cook writes that the newly enacted Indiana Religious Restoration Act, which allows individuals to cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state non-discrimination law, is just one of more than two dozen similar pieces of legislation under consideration around the country.

Some are more overt than others, like the Texas law that would strip the salaries of clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, he writes. Others use religion to cloak discrimination.

“I have great reverence for religious freedom,” Cook writes. “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 writes that discrimination is “bad for business” — which is why, on behalf of Apple, he is “standing up to oppose this new wave of legislation.” He called on others to join him.

“Our message, to people around the country and around the world, is this: Apple is open. Open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love,” Cook writes. “Regardless of what the law might allow in Indiana or Arkansas, we will never tolerate discrimination.”

Cook notes that too many people have fought and died to protect the country’s founding principles of freedom and equality, and alludes to the discrimination he witnessed growing up in the south, writing that he hopes to banish such behavior to the past.

“This isn’t a political issue. It isn’t a religious issue. This is about how we treat each other as human beings,” Cook writes. “Opposing discrimination takes courage. With the lives and dignity of so many people at stake, it’s time for all of us to be courageous.”

Cook’s remarks come as a growing number of technology companies, celebrities and political figures are protesting the new law, saying it will open the door to discrimination based on sexual orientation.

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