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By Urvaksh Karkaria
Days after Salesforce chief Marc Benioff voiced his opposition to Georgia’s proposed “Religious Freedom” bill, the San Francisco-based software firm backed up its concerns with a letter to the state legislature.
Georgia lawmakers approved legislation that combined two bills: the “Pastor Protection Act,” which would assure clergy they would not have to perform same-sex marriages; and the “First Amendment Defense Act,” which would allow religious nonprofits to deny services to same-sex marriages.
“As one of Georgia’s fastest growing technology employers, Salesforce believes that HB 757 in its current form creates an environment of discrimination that is inconsistent with our values and I am writing to register our opposition to this bill,” according to the letter signed by Salesforce Senior Vice President Warren Wick. ” Without an open business environment that welcomes all residents and visitors, Salesforce will be unable to continue building on its tradition of innovation in Georgia.”
“Equality is a core value at Salesforce and ensuring that our employees feel welcome, valued, and safe is a top priority,” the letter continued. “We encourage you to take decisive action to avoid this kind of damage and reaffirm that our state will not tolerate discrimination against people because of who they are or who they love.”
The letter comes days after Salesforce CEO Benioff expressed his opposition to Georgia’s proposed legislation on a conference call with analysts.
“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…,” Benioff said. “And I hope that they see the light the way that the state of Indiana did.”
Scaling back in a corporate hub such as Atlanta could be damaging to the company and the city.
Atlanta is the among Salesforce’s top 5 employment hubs in the United States. Last year the software company expanded its “regional hub” in Buckhead — adding about 300 jobs — following its acquisition of ExactTarget for $2.5 billion. In late 2013, ExactTarget acquired Pardot, an Atlanta marketing automation startup for $95 million.
Benioff joins several Georgia businesses, including AT&T (NYSE: T), Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. (NYSE: CCE), The Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD), SunTrust Banks Inc. (NYSE: STI) and United Parcel Service Inc. (NYSE: UPS), who oppose. The Metro Atlanta Chamber sent a letter to all 56 state senators informing them it had signed a pledge to oppose the bill put together by Georgia Prospers, a coalition headed by former Georgia Senate GOP leader Ronnie Chance.SHARE THIS STORY