IBM tells North Carolina governor it opposes ‘religious freedom’ bill

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IBM

RALEIGH, N.C. — Technology giant IBM’s top North Carolina executive has told state lawmakers and Gov. Pat McCrory that the corporation strongly opposes proposed legislation supporters say protects religious convictions and opponents worry allows discrimination against LGBT people.

IBM, which employs thousands at its Research Triangle Park campus and more statewide, opposes the state Religious Freedom Restoration Act because it would enable discrimination based on sexual identity, executive Robert Greenberg said in a letter to McCrory posted on the company’s website.

“IBM is opposed to discrimination against anyone on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation or religion. We urge you to work with the Legislature to ensure that any legislation in this area is not discriminatory,” Greenberg wrote.

McCrory spokesman Josh Ellis did not respond to requests for comment. The governor last month expressed skepticism of the Legislature’s “religious freedom” bill.

“What is the problem they’re trying to solve?” he asked during a radio interview, adding “I haven’t seen it at this point in time.”

Supporters of the legislation say it would protect business owners or individuals against laws requiring them to act in ways counter to their religious beliefs. Opponents say the measure would amount to legalizing discrimination against gays and lesbians.

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed similar legislation into law last month, prompting businesses and other organizations to cancel plans to travel to the state or expand operations there. Wal-Mart executives spoke out against a religious freedom law in the retailer’s home state of Arkansas.

IBM executives this week sent Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal a similar letter signaling their “strong” opposition to a religious objections bill, saying the company will find it much harder to attract talent to Louisiana.

IBM’s Research Triangle Park complex is one of the company’s largest sites worldwide, but the company will not discuss employment figures. IBM’s decision to move there 50 years ago cemented the RTP as a national research hub.

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