updated 12:26 am EST, Tue February 25, 2014
Company owns facility in AZ for future sapphire-making plant
Apple, which owns a manufacturing facility in Arizona to be used in the future for a key component-making factory, has voiced its opposition to the "turn away the gay" bill that has passed the Arizona legislature. The state -- long known for its inflammatory laws and actions against minorities -- passed a measure late last week that would legalize discrimination against gay people, provided the person or business owners had "strong religious views."
Apple has a history of opposing discrimination of all sorts, and of extending equal benefits and rights to gay employees -- both under the tenure of previous CEO Steve Jobs and current CEO Tim Cook. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has not yet signed the bill, and vetoed a similar bill last year -- but has not signalled an indication of her intent one way or the other. Business leaders, Democrats and even some Republicans (including AZ Senator John McCain) have come out against the measure, fearing a backlash from corporations and tourists who come from less backward states.
This is the same state that has run afoul of the Justice Department on numerous occasions, from the racial profiling antics of Sheriff Joe Arpaio to the state's defiant battle not to honor the federal Dr. Martin Luther King holiday (it finally capitulated in 1992). The legislature's Judiciary Committee in 2011 passed a bill allowing employers to refuse heath insurance for women using contraceptives.
The bill, if signed into law, would not only allow people with "sincerely held religious beliefs" to openly discriminate against gay people, but could also be interpreted to allow discrimination against anyone at all who in any way offends those beliefs -- including members of other religions, women who are unwed mothers or have had an abortion, mixed-race persons, Jews, Muslims and others. Late-night comics, civil rights organizations, gay groups and various leaders have all heaped scorn on the measure, which will likely be challenged in court even if signed. Even three Republicans that signed the legislation originally have reconsidered and asked Governor Brewer not to sign it, saying the bill is doing "irreparable harm" to the state's image.
Apple confirmed that it had contacted Governor Brewer and urged her to veto the bill, which was pushed through the Republican-dominant state legislature by GOP lawmakers and conservative lobbyist group the Center for Arizona Policy. Star Trek actor and Internet celebrity George Takei, with over 13 million followers on Facebook and a million on Twitter, pointed out in an open letter that Arizona's previous discrimination against minorities cost it the Super Bowl in 1989, losing the state $500 million, and promised a widely-publicized boycott if the measure passes.