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Marc Benioff eviscerates Indiana over anti-gay law... even though Salesforce contributes to anti-gay politicians

By David Holmes , written on March 30, 2015

From The News Desk

Marc Benioff, CEO of the Silicon Valley cloud computing giant Salesforce, is on a crusade against the state of Indiana after its governor Mike Pence signed a "Religious Liberty" law that many opponents fear could be used to discriminate against consumers on the basis of sexual orientation.

Since the passage of the law, Benioff has cancelled all required travel of Salesforce employees to the state of Indiana and has pledged to "dramatically reduce [Salesforce's] investment in IN based on [its] employees' & customers' outrage over the Religious Freedom Bill."

Many other businesses have joined Benioff in boycotting or otherwise condemning Indiana, and the Salesforce CEO has spent much of the past few days retweeting and linking to these stories on Twitter (which we've collected in a Storify below).

Before going further, it may help to better understand the potential impact of this law. Here's how it might enable discrimination: Say the Christian owner of a bakery decides that, out of all of the strange and arcane rules found within the Bible like not eating shellfish or animals with cloven hooves, he's going to be really strict about the whole gay thing. For that reason, he wants the right to refuse to bake a cake for a gay couple's wedding without getting sued, and this law paves the way for such protection. Moreover, some fear that, depending on the judge, the law could justify other less overtly-religious acts of discrimination -- like refusing to serve a gay person at a restaurant.

While I admire Benioff's stand against this terrible piece of legislation, I wonder if Salesforce will also stop making campaign contributions through its political action committee or PAC to politicians who oppose laws allowing same-sex marriage. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, in 2014 Salesforce's PAC made contributions to the campaigns of John Cornyn, Mitch McConnell, Bob Goodlatte, Mike Crapo, and Orrin Hatch*, all of whom oppose same-sex marriage to varying degrees. And while these contributions are comparatively small -- particularly relative to the amount of cash Salesforce could potentially cost the state of Indiana by refusing to do business there -- cutting them off could compel Republican leaders to soften their stances on this issue.

Here are some of Benioff's tweets from today as he absolutely etherized the state of Indiana:

[photo by Piyush Kumar]

  • CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that Salesforce had given to the campaigns of Ted Cruz, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Chuck Grassley. These were in fact individual contributions made by Salesforce employees, and not through Salesforce's own political action committee.