updated 09:28 am EST, Mon November 4, 2013
Rare political statement by Apple executive
In a Sunday editorial for the Wall Street Journal, Apple CEO Tim Cook asked US senators to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in a cloture vote scheduled to take place on Monday. ENDA is meant to prevent businesses from discriminating based on gender or sexual orientation. Although the Act has the backing of President Obama and 59 senators, it's one senator short of the 60 needed to defeat any Republican filibuster attempt. That makes it critical for ENDA's backers to swing any moderate Republicans, if possible.
"At Apple, we try to make sure people understand that they don't have to check their identity at the door," part of Cook's editorial reads. "We're committed to creating a safe and welcoming workplace for all employees, regardless of their race, gender, nationality or sexual orientation.
"As we see it, embracing people's individuality is a matter of basic human dignity and civil rights. It also turns out to be great for the creativity that drives our business. We've found that when people feel valued for who they are, they have the comfort and confidence to do the best work of their lives."
Cook has a vested interest in supporting the legislation. He himself is gay, and Apple has maintained its LGBT-friendly policies for decades. Expressing support for ENDA may help reinforce Apple's public image.
Should the Act pass the Senate, it will still have to make it through the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. That may be difficult, as House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) may not want to bring the legislation to vote, given the anti-gay views of some Republican politicians and voters. At the same time, the party has expressed a desire to shed its image as out-of-touch with modern society. ENDA was brought to the Senate in 1996, but defeated in a 49-50 vote.