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Apple's Tim Cook speaks out against discriminatory 'religious freedom' laws

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Apple CEO Tim Cook has used the editorial pages of The Washington Post to condemn laws that allow businesses to refuse service to homosexuals or other groups on the grounds of "religious freedom." Calling the legislation "something very dangerous happening in states across the country," Cook says these laws "rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality."

"I'm writing in the hopes that many more will join this movement."

Although Indiana has been the focus of recent attention, as Governor Mike Pence signed a bill on Thursday legalizing discrimination for religious reasons, 19 other states have similar laws on the books. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed another "religious freedom" bill last year after widespread opposition from the public and companies including Apple. Months earlier, Cook wrote in The Wall Street Journal backing the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, a proposed bill that would ban the refusal of service on the basis of sexual orientation or gender. In a Bloomberg Businessweek editorial late last year, Cook came out as gay.

"America's business community recognized a long time ago that discrimination, in all its forms, is bad for business," Cook writes. "At Apple, we are in business to empower and enrich our customers' lives. We strive to do business in a way that is just and fair. That's why, on behalf of Apple, I'm standing up to oppose this new wave of legislation — wherever it emerges. I'm writing in the hopes that many more will join this movement. From North Carolina to Nevada, these bills under consideration truly will hurt jobs, growth and the economic vibrancy of parts of the country where a 21st-century economy was once welcomed with open arms."

"I remember what it was like to grow up in the South in the 1960s and 1970s," writes Cook, who says that faith has "always been an important part" of his life. "Discrimination isn't something that's easy to oppose. It doesn't always stare you in the face. It moves in the shadows. And sometimes it shrouds itself within the very laws meant to protect us."