An anti-discrimination bill designed to protect LGBT employees is set to be named after Tim Cook, according to a new report from Reuters.
The bill was put forward by Alabama’s only openly gay lawmaker, Democratic state Representative Patricia Todd. Given Cook’s status as not only the head of the world’s most valuable company, but also an Alabama native, the suggestion to put his name on the bill was first made by Todd “in jest” — only for the comments to be taken seriously and published.
Soon after, she heard from Apple, which was initially hesitant about Cook’s name being associated so publicly with such a politically sensitive issue. However, Apple apparently reconsidered, and Todd received a positive call from Apple’s general counsel, Bruce Sewell, saying Cook was happy to lend his name to the cause.
In a statement, Apple said that, “Tim was honored to hear that State Rep. Todd wanted to name an anti-discrimination bill after him, and we’re sorry if there was any miscommunication about it. We have a long history of support for LGBT rights and we hope every state will embrace workplace equality for all.”
Tim Cook came out as gay in a beautifully written public essay in October this year. In a speech delivered to the Alabama Academy of Honor that month, Cook said that, “We were too slow on equality on African-Americans. We were too slow on interracial marriage. And we are still too slow on equality for the LBGT community.”
Previously, Apple has helped promote LGBT rights through its participation in San Francisco’s Gay Pride parade. At the start of 2014, Apple spoke out against Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s controversial religious freedom bill SB1062, which critics claimed would allow companies to use religious belief as a basis for discriminating against the gay and lesbian community.
Last year, Apple — as part of a coalition with Facebook, Intel, Nike, Oracle, Qualcomm, and numerous other individuals and companies — publicly backed gay marriage, saying that gay marriage bans not only harm workplace morale, but also make it harder for them to recruit gay, lesbian and bisexual workers.
Following on from the news about the Tim Cook Bill, Patricia Todd hopes Cook will speak on the bill’s behalf, particularly testifying to its value in attracting business and talent to Alabama. “We have extended the invitation to him, but he is a busy man and of course Apple comes first,” Todd said. “I hope he can fit it into his schedule.”