IBM opposes religious freedom bill in North Carolina in letter to governor

North Carolina governor Pat McCrory recently spoke out against a proposed Religious Freedom Restoration Act in his state.Photo: Reuters/Mike Theiler

Tech giant IBM says it will oppose a proposed Religious Freedom Restoration Act or RFRA in the state of North Carolina.

According to WRAL TechWire, IBM's North Carolina executive Robert Greenberg sent a letter to State Governor Pat McCrory expressing the company's opposition to the proposed RFRA.

Greenberg stated in the letter that the passage of the RFRA "would enable discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation or identity."

"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 told Governor McCrory in the letter.

IBM employs several thousand employees in the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina.

With the letter, the company joined fellow tech giants Cisco and Apple in speaking out against proposed RFRAs in other states. Executives from Cisco and Apple had said that such bills will promote discrimination against members of the LGBT community in establishments and workplaces.

North Carolina's religious freedom bill had passed first reading in the state's House on March 26, and was approved on the Senate floor on March 30. The bill aims to prohibit state legislation that will "burden" a person's exercise of religious freedom.

WRAL TechWire noted that the bill describes a "person" as an individual, a business, association or a religious institution.

RFRAs gained national attention late March after Indiana State Governor Mike Pence signed into law the state's religious freedom bill whose provisions are similar to the proposed North Carolina RFRA. Pence later signed an amended RFRA that specifically prohibits discrimination against the LGBT community.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson also faced similar backlash for a proposed RFRA in his state. In response, Hutchinson requested an amended bill that would closely reflect the language of the federal RFRA and include an anti-discrimination amendment.

Governor McCrory expressed his opposition to his state's RFRA, saying in a recent interview that religious freedom bills "make no sense."