3. Tech pushes hard for national LGBT rights law
Tech companies are leading a broad push designed to convince Congress to pass the Equality Act, which would extend a number of civil rights protections to lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender Americans.
What's happening: As first reported by Axios, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, speaking on behalf of the Business Roundtable group of large employers, wrote a sharply worded letter urging passage of the bill.
- In addition, the Human Rights Campaign has collected support from more than 160 businesses, many from the tech industry, urging the bill's passage.
Background: The Equality Act would amend several existing federal civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, offering protection in areas ranging from employment and housing to credit and public accommodations.
"As employers, America's leading companies know that our economy works best when our employees can be who they are, without fear of bias, discrimination, or inequality — in the workplace or in their communities."
Between the lines: The letter, addressed to Rep. David Cicilline and Sen. Jeff Merkley, notes that most large businesses have already added nondiscrimination policies protecting LGBTQ workers from discrimination.
- "We can control what happens in our workplaces but that’s not enough," IBM government affairs VP Chris Padilla tells Axios. "Employees need to be protected not just in the workplace but in society in general."
Who's on board: The HRC letter is a who's who of the tech industry, including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Intel, and Microsoft among many others. Also on the list are companies from other sectors, including American Airlines, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Hershey, Kellogg, Marriott, Procter & Gamble and Target.
Who's not on that list: While AT&T and T-Mobile US are listed, Sprint and Verizon are not.
The bottom line: Despite some bipartisan support and significant corporate backing, the bill faces a challenge given Republican control of the Senate and White House.