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Salesforce CEO clashes with Georgia lawmaker over ‘religious freedom’ bill

Salesforce CEO clashes with Georgia lawmaker over ‘religious freedom’ bill

Marc Benioff at the World Economic Forum 2013.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff clashed with a Georgia lawmaker after he threatened to divest from the state if a discriminatory ‘religious freedom’ bill becomes law.

Benioff asked his Twitter followers Friday (26 February) whether he should move the cloud computing company’s May digital marketing event out of Atlanta if Senate Bill 129 passes the Georgia legislature.

More than 6,000 people voted and 80% said Salesforce should leave Georgia.

Republican Sen Joshua McKoon, who sponsored the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act, then called out Benioff over Salesforce’s continued operations in India and Singapore – two countries where gay sex is a crime.

Benioff fired back: ‘I believe in equality for all! Unlike you @JoshMcKoon I do whatever I can, wherever I can, to fight against discrimination hatred & bigotry.’

Another anti-gay bill, the Pastor Protection Act, passed the state House earlier this month and last week the Senate – which combined it with the even more controversial First Amendment Defense Act, which allows religious adoption agencies, schools, government workers and others to refuse services to gay couples.

A total eight ‘religious freedom’ bills have been filed in the Georgia legislature.

Salesforce responded to the spat in a statement.

‘This discussion is about Georgia, where our local employees have asked us to get involved,’ it said.

‘We are not alone—more than 400 businesses have joined Georgia Prospers to oppose this bill in its current form. We were encouraged by comments from Governor Deal indicating that the bill is not in its final form.

‘Salesforce believes in equality for all. Equal rights is an important issue, both in the US and around the world, and we do whatever we can to protect our employees and customers from discrimination.’