Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff wants Tim Cook's help fighting a Georgia bill that could discriminate against gays

Salesforce CEO Marc BenioffJustin Sullivan/Getty ImagesSalesforce CEO Marc Benioff

Apple CEO Tim Cook’s been busy lately fighting the court order to hack into an iPhone owned by one of the San Bernardino shooters.

But Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff thinks Cook should focus on a proposed bill in Georgia that some fear would allow “anti-gay” discrimination.

His comments came during an interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Thursday, when he was asked if Cook should “cave to the FBI.”

“I think what Tim Cook should be doing is getting down right now to the state of Georgia and talking to those leaders about House Bill 757,” Benioff said.

Benioff was referring to the Religious Freedom Bill that the Georgia Senate approved last week. The bill, now waiting approval from Georgia’s House, would basically allow religious non-profits, including hospitals, homeless shelters, and adoption centres, to deny services if they cite “a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction” against same-sex marriage. It would also ensure that clergy will not be forced to perform same-sex marriages.

“We’re very worried about what’s happening to our employees down there, with more discrimination like what we fought back in Indiana last year just reared its head at HB757. And that’s what I think Tim Cook should be focused on right now,” Benioff continued.

Benioff, well-known for his social activism, has already helped successfully turn over a similar bill in Indiana last year. At the time, a number of tech companies, including Apple, joined Benioff to fight the cause, and now he wants Cook’s support again.

In fact, during its earnings call Wednesday, Benioff expressed his his plan to scale back Salesforce’s operations in the state of Georgia, if the bill ends up passing through.

“We’re looking squarely at what’s going on in Georgia with House Bill 757, which means that we may have to reduce our investments in the State of Georgia based on what we’re seeing with the state government there as well,” Benioff said. “And I hope that they see the light the way that the State of Indiana did.”

It’s unclear how many Georgia-based employees Salesforce has. But Exact Target, the company Salesforce bought for $2.5 billion, owns Pardot, a marketing software maker based in Atlanta.

Salesforce’s spokesperson sent the following statement in response to Benioff’s comments:

“Salesforce opposes HB 757 in its current form because we believe the legislation creates an environment of discrimination that is inconsistent with our values. Salesforce believes in equality for all and we are committed to protecting our employees and customers from discrimination.”

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