Apple called up Arizona’s governor, Jan Brewer (R) Tuesday to urge her to veto the state’s anti-gay bill.
The state’s controversial SB 1062 bill allows individuals to discriminate against LGBT people and potentially other groups based on a religious objection. But the bill is a particular threat to local businesses because it threatens to upend any non-discrimination policies they have in place.
Brewer has only a few days to decide whether to veto the bill. If passed, employees would be able to discriminate against customers and fellow employees, refusing to do business with them based on their personal beliefs. For example, a baker could turn away a same-sex couple who wants to buy a cake.
Apple has a vested interest in stopping the bill: it’s on the verge of opening a new manufacturing plant in the state. Apple’s new Sapphire glass plant is expected to start production this year and promises a potential 2,000 jobs, 700 permanent jobs and 1,300 more in construction.
Apple joins other major companies, including Marriott and American Airlines, in warning Brewer about the bill’s potential damage to the economy. It “would have profound negative impacts on the hospitality industry on the Arizona and on the state’s overall economic climate for years to come,” Marriott predicted in a public statement. The state Super Bowl Committee, Arizona businesses and even conservative lawmakers also who originally voted in favor of the bill all support a veto. One of Arizona’s largest employers, Intel also offered support Tuesday to veto in response to LGBT blogger and activist Scott Wooledge‘s email request.
Anti-gay bills have been introduced in several states but are very bad for businesses, studies have shown. Nearly all of the top Fortune 500 companies have policies that protect sexual orientation, and over 60 percent include gender identity, according to the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index report for 2014. Studies show that non-discrimination policies in the workplace promote diversity, help increase revenue, and improve employee satisfaction.
Twenty-one states have bills in place that protect against sexual discrimination. Other states, including Kansas, Idaho and Ohio have failed to implement similar anti-gay bills that give businesses license to refuse service based on religious convictions.