Tech CEO threatens to pull 15,000 person convention out of Georgia if governor signs anti-LGBT law
The CEO of one America’s largest tech marketing firms gave the governor of Georgia an ultimatum on Thursday: sign an anti-LGBT bill sitting on your desk and I’ll pull my May convention in Atlanta and take it elsewhere, reports On Top magazine.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff had already expressed his displeasure with the impending passage of HB 757, which would allow groups to deny service to members of the LGBT community due to “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
While the bill specifically defines faith-based organizations as churches, religious schools, and mission groups, critics of the legislation fear the language is vague enough to also cover businesses, hospitals and adoption centers.
Georgia lawmakers did make a slight change to the legislation — by replacing direct references to same-sex marriages in the law before sending it off to GOP Governor Nathan Deal — that wasn’t good enough for Benioff who is demanding the lawmaker veto the bill outright.
Back In February, Benioff tweeted a poll asking followers if Salesforce should move their Connections 2016 event out of the state is the bill passed.
80 percent of respondents said “Yes.”
Thursday, Salesforce issued a statement saying the company would not only pull the conference but proceed with moving business out of Georgia if the bill was signed.
“Salesforce is calling on Governor Deal to veto HB 757 because the legislation creates an environment of discrimination and makes the state of Georgia seem unwelcoming to same-sex couples and the LGBTQ community,” the statement read. “If HB 757 is not vetoed and instead becomes law, Salesforce will have to reduce investments in Georgia, including moving the Salesforce Connections conference to a state that provides a more welcoming environment for the LGBTQ community.”
The Connections 2016 conference, slated for early May, is expected to be attended by over 15,000 participants.