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Georgia Governor Vetoes Anti-LGBT Bill After Pressure From Salesforce's Benioff and Others

For the second time, economic pressure from Salesforce and others forces a state to walk back anti-LGBT legislation.


Georgia Governor Nathan Deal today vetoed a bill passed by the state’s legislature. The bill was intended to allow businesses to discriminate against lesbian, gay and transgender people on religious grounds; it spurred numerous companies, led by, to threaten boycotts against the state.

Deal, a Republican in his second term, had come under pressure in recent weeks to veto the bill, which passed the legislature earlier this month.

Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, said at the time that the company would “have to reduce its investments in Georgia” if the bill became law, and threatened, among other things, to cancel a five-day company conference in Atlanta scheduled for May.

The company supported the veto decision in a statement: “Salesforce applauds Governor Deal’s decision to veto HB 757. We look forward to growing both our team and investments in Georgia — including hosting thousands of customers, partners and employees at our Salesforce Connections event in Atlanta on May 10-12.”

Benioff thanked the state of Georgia on Twitter.

It’s the second time Benioff has fought anti-LGBT legislation at the state level. Last year he lobbied Indiana’s Republican Governor Mike Pence over a similar bill he had signed. Since Salesforce owns an Indianapolis-based subsidiary called ExactTarget, Benioff promised a “slow rolling of economic sanctions” if the law was not thrown out. Pence and the state legislature ultimately made some changes to the law.

Dell CEO and founder Michael Dell had also opposed the Georgia bill, and praised the veto on Twitter.

Dell owns SecureWorks, an Atlanta-based security company. Other tech companies including Microsoft, IBM and Twitter also joined a coalition called Georgia Prospers to oppose the bill. Coca-Cola and the National Football League also warned Deal about economic consequences that would take place if the bill became law.

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