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Apple CEO slams Alabama for being ‘too slow on LGBT equality’

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — After being inducted into the Alabama Hall of Honor along with University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions and others, Apple CEO Tim Cook urged Alabama to achieve “equality in truth” by granting increased protections for members of the state’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

“As a state, we took too long to take steps toward equality,” Cook told the crowd in the Old House Chamber of the Capitol, which include Gov. Bentley. “We were too slow on equality for African-Americans. We were too slow on interracial marriage. And we are still too slow on equality for the LGBT community.”

The remarks from Cook, who is a native of Robertsdale, Ala., and an Auburn graduate, come as gay rights activists have begun increasing their efforts across the South.

In April, The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a Washington, D.C.-based gay rights advocacy group, announced the launch of a multi-million dollar campaign for LGBT equality in Southern states, including Alabama.

The new initiative, which HRC has dubbed “Project One America,” will be backed by $8.5 million of the group’s money and will focus on “using chats and front-porch visits between relatives and friends to foster an environment more welcoming toward people of all sexual orientations,” according to the Associated Press.

A gay marriage ballot initiative in staunchly conservative Alabama would undoubtedly go down in flames, and there is no chance the Republican-controlled Alabama Legislature would consider legalizing gay marriage any time in the foreseeable future. That leaves a federal court decision as LGBT advocates’ only realistic opportunity to bring gay marriage to Alabama.

Earlier this month the U.S. Supreme Court let stand court rulings permitting gay marriage in five states, but did not offer any explanation. Their inaction did not, however, impact Alabama.

“The Supreme Court’s decision leaves Alabama’s traditional marriage laws intact,” Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange told AL.com. “The court of appeals that governs Alabama has not addressed same-sex marriage in a case from any state, and no court has yet addressed the constitutionality of Alabama’s traditional marriage laws. We will continue to defend traditional marriage and Alabama law.”

In Cook’s remarks on Monday, he specifically mentioned that, in his view, gay employees needed more protections in Alabama.

When asked if Gov. Bentley had any comments on Cook’s remarks, a spokesperson for the governor responded with one word: “No.”

Cook pivoted from his LGBT remarks to also announce that Apple is donating $100 million to help struggling schools acquire new technology, including five schools in the state of Alabama.

(h/t Montgomery Advertiser)

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

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