Apple CEO Tim Cook is allowing his name to be added to new Alabama legislation that bars discrimination against state employees on the basis of their sexual orientation.
The 54-year-old publicly announced he was gay for the first time in October by penning an open letter that addressed the discrimination he has faced.
“I’m proud to be gay,” wrote Cook, “and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”
“It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.
“I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realise how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others. So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.”
According to Democratic state Representative Patricia Todd (Alabama's only openly gay lawmaker), Cook was initially hesitant to lend his name to the bill, but later embraced the idea.
"Tim was honored to hear that State Representative Todd wanted to name an anti-discrimination bill after him, and we're sorry if there was any miscommunication about it," Apple have told Reuters in a statement. "We have a long history of support for LGBT rights and we hope every state will embrace workplace equality for all."
The bill faces an uphill battle, however, in the Republican-dominated Alabama Legislature.