The chief executive of Apple Inc. has joined the chorus of voices calling on Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson to veto a so-called Religious Freedom bill that critics say would open the door for discrimination against the LGBT community.
In a tweet Friday afternoon, Tim Cook, who came out as gay in October, said the Silicon Valley tech giant is “open for everyone,” and urged Hutchinson not to follow in the footsteps of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who signed a similar bill into law Thursday. Both governors are Republican.
Apple is open for everyone. We are deeply disappointed in Indiana's new law and calling on Arkansas Gov. to veto the similar #HB1228.
â€” Tim Cook (@tim_cook) March 27, 2015
Arkansas House Bill 1228 passed the state Senate 24-7 Friday. It would prohibit the state and local governments from substantially burdening the free exercise of religion “without compelling justification.” The bill could, for instance, allow bakeries to refuse to make cakes for same-sex weddings on the grounds that gay marriage violates the religious convictions of the bakeries' owners.
The bill will now go to the state Assembly for revisions. Hutchinson has already said he will sign it into law, the Associated Press reported.
Civil rights groups strongly oppose the measure. In a statement Friday, Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign and an Arkansas native, called the bill “a poison pill for jobs and investment” and said the governor has a duty to veto it, to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. “If he does not, his reputation will be forever stained and the people of the state of Arkansas will suffer for his willingness to cater to a small political faction whose sole intent is to discriminate against their fellow Arkansans,” Griffin said.
Wal-Mart Stores, which is based in Bentonville, Arkansas, also opposes the bill. If the bill passes and the governor signs it, Arkansas would become the second state this year to enact a religious-protections law. Following the passage of Indiana’s law this week, the hashtag #BoycottIndiana trended on Twitter for several hours.