Apple says there's no saving Arizona if it allows its controversial anti-gay prejudice bill to become law, and it's hard to disagree.
[ABOVE: Image taken at Gay Pride march in New York City, c/o Diane Beato/Flikr.]
The story so far:
Apple has joined politicians, rights groups and businesses (including Arizona's own Chamber of Commerce) to urge state governor, Jan Brewer, to veto a bill permitting businesses to deny service to gay and lesbian customers on strength of the religious choices of business owners.
Apple says the bill will be bad for business in the state and could cause it to retract from doing business there. Apple, in November, announced plans to build a sapphire glass plant in Arizona, prompting Brewer to say:
"Apple will have an incredibly positive economic impact for Arizona and its decision to locate here speaks volumes about the friendly, pro-business climate we have been creating these past four years."
Pro-business? Given that a significant slice of the world's population -- Apple's customers and employees -- happen to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, Apple has chosen to support them.
What's interesting about Arizona's law is its inconsistency. While claiming to protect the religious freedom to refuse service to gay people, at least one of the proponents of the law has not considered how it can be applied to enable Arizonians to refuse customers who are divorced, single mothers, or from other groups that the Bible admonishes against.
CNN's Anderson Cooper showed up the inconsistent position among proponents of the bill extremely effectively when he interviewed Arizona state senator, Al Melvin. Melvin, a Republican in the running for governor of the state, appeared to have dim understanding of the implications of the bill when applied to treatment of other minority groups. (See clip above.)
So, why is this seemingly ill-thought through attempt at using religious freedom as an argument to justify state-sponsored anti-gay prejudice anything to do with Apple?
For Apple, opposition to the bill is a requirement as it reflects its own policies of tolerance for people from within differing sexual, racial or gender-based groups. In order to do business in Arizona, it needs to protect those of its workers and customers who come from such groups.
That's the same kind of commitment to employee well-being Apple was widely encouraged by the world's media to follow with regard to the rights of workers within its supply chain.
Apple's commitment to demanding Arizona drop its anti-gay law isn't a political matter but a reflection of its own internal corporate human resources strategy, its own corporate philosophy. It's also true to say that a philosophical position, like any religious creed, is a choice, while skin tone, gender or sexuality are not.
In other words, Apple's corporate philosophy requires it preach tolerance, not prejudice, in this regard. Doing so means it must oppose Arizona's anti-gay bill.
Apple's recent iPad ad campaign asks, "What will your verse be?" When it comes to Arizona, perhaps we should ask ourselves the same question.
My answer? I support Apple's call for tolerance, regardless of a person's sexual orientation, race, or gender.
What will your verse be?
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