Marc Benioff, CEO of San
Francisco-based Salesforce, announced this week that the company will
reduce its investment in Georgia after lawmakers approved a bill that
protects opponents of marriage equality.
“We’re looking squarely at what’s
going on in Georgia with House Bill 757, which means that we have to
reduce our investments in the state of Georgia based on what we’re
seeing with the state government there … And I hope that they see
the light the way that the state of Indiana did,” Benioff is quoted
as saying by the Atlanta
Business Chronicle during a conference call with analysts.
The Georgia Senate last week approved
its version of House Bill 757, the Pastor Protection Act approved by
the House. It protects clergy from being forced to marry gay and
lesbian couples. On its way to the Senate floor, a committee amended
the bill to include Senate Bill 284, which would “prohibit
discriminatory action against a person who believes, speaks or acts
in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral
conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of
one man and one woman or that sexual relations are properly reserved
to such marriage.” The revised bill cleared the chamber 38-14.
Before heading to the desk of
Republican Governor Nathan Deal, the GOP-led House must agree with
JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president
of policy and political affairs at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC),
the nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, praised Benioff's stand.
“Salesforce is leading by example and
reminding the legislature what it seems to have forgotten, that all
Americans, including LGBT people, should be able to live free from
fear of discrimination,” Winterhof
said in a blog post. “Today another Georgia business is
sounding the alarm about a reckless and irresponsible bill that would
create broad loopholes and put LGBT Georgians in the path of
discrimination. Business and religious leaders alike have called out
this disingenuous bill as an attempt to license discrimination. This
shameful bill should be stopped in its tracks.”
According to HRC, Salesforce joins
several Georgia-based companies in speaking out against passage,
including AT&T, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc., The Home Depot,
SunTrust Banks, and United Parcel Service (UPS).