So-called “religious freedom” laws in Indiana, Arkansas and other states are merely thiny veiled discrimination that harkens back to the days of segregation, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook.
“There’s something very dangerous happening in states across the country,” Cook wrote in a Washington Post op-ed on Monday.
“The days of segregation and discrimination marked by ‘Whites Only’ signs on shop doors, water fountains and restrooms must remain deep in our past,” the head of the world’s largest company wrote. “We must never return to any semblance of that time.”
The op-ed from Cook, who is gay and grew up in Jim Crow Alabama, served as one of the fullest throated criticisms to date of the rash of state laws, which claim to protect people’s religious freedom but which opponents say would allow businesses to discriminate against gay people.
Last week, Cook had tweeted his opposition to a law signed by Indiana Gov. Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceBennie Thompson not ruling out subpoenaing Trump Heritage Foundation names new president Fewer than 4 in 10 say US is on right track: poll MORE (R), known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Pence, a potential White House candidate in 2016, has rushed to defend the law. Over the weekend, he pressed the importance of his state’s “hospitality” and said that the law would stand.
In recent days, tech companies including Yelp, Salesforce and Angie’s List have opposed the law, and the NCAA pledged to reconsider holding future events in Indiana if the law was allowed to stand.
“America’s business community recognized a long time ago that discrimination, in all its forms, is bad for business,” Cook wrote.
"That’s why, on behalf of Apple, I’m standing up to oppose this new wave of legislation — wherever it emerges."