Moral Compass: Apple CEO Tim Cook v. Indiana Governor Mike Pence

TEXT: This morning, in an op-ed in The Washington Post, Tim Cook who is the CEO of Apple wrote the following: Our message, to people around the country and around the world, is this: Apple is open. Open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or whom they love. We will never tolerate discrimination… America must be a land of opportunity for everyone. This isn’t a political issue. It isn’t a religious issue. This is about how we treat each other as human beings. Opposing discrimination takes courage. With the lives and dignity of so many people at stake, it’s time for all of us to be courageous.

Tim Cook wrote this message in response to the actions of the Mike Pence, the Governor of Indiana, who on Friday signed into law a bill that will allow its citizens to deny service to anyone if an individual feels that to provide service would be offensive to his or her religious beliefs. The law is aimed at discriminating against gays and lesbians. Of that there is no doubt. How do we know that? Because during the debate on the law, when an amendment was proposed that would have expressly prohibited the law from permitting discrimination, the amendment was defeated. Additionally, while the Governor claims that he would have vetoed the law had he thought that it would be used to permit discrimination, when he was invited to expressly state that it would not be used to discriminate against gays and lesbians, he refused. And he was invited to do so 8 times in the span of 8 minutes yesterday morning. He refused. Instead, when he was asked if he would support changing the law to assure that it would not be used to discriminate against gays and lesbians, he stated, “I would not push for that. That is not on my agenda.”

Let’s talk moral compass.

A moral compass, mine, yours, Tim Cook’s, Mike Pence’s, are the principles that inform our choices, our behaviors, and our actions. Our moral compass is on display every day simply by way of how we interact with one another and by way of the choices we make that affect the lives of the people in our communities. Each one of us helps to shape our world and the world for the people we care about simply by way of our everyday actions and our choices. As time goes on, we will be living in a world that is shaped by the strength of our moral compass.

Some people find themselves in positions that allow them to exert a greater influence on the world around them, again through their choices and their actions, and as a result exert a greater share of influence on shaping the world we will all be living in as time goes on.

What kind of world do you want to live in?

A Tim Cook world vision: A world that is open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or whom they love. A world where we will never tolerate discrimination.

Or a Mike Pence world. A world in which the opportunity to change the laws that permit discrimination are not on the agenda.

I’ll choose a Tim Cook world vision: One in which we treat each other as human beings. It’s one in which opposing discrimination takes courage.

With the lives and dignity of so many people at stake, it’s time for all of us to be courageous.


Send Governor Mike Pence your message.

Tweet him at @GovPenceIN

Support the initiative to pressure the legislature to change the law by sending a message #BoycottIndiana

Citizen Leaders: Grade School Boys Band Together to Stop Bullying

Congratulations to these young grade school boys who banded together to show their support for a first grader who was subjected to bullying and teasing from other pupils. These youngsters rock! In the words of American anthropologist Margaret Meade:

Never doubt that the actions of a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Boy Scouts of America Fail

One month ago today, the Senate confirmed Eric Fanning as undersecretary of the Air Force — the second-highest civilian position in this branch of the United States Armed Services. Today, the 1400 members of the national council of the Boy Scouts of America voted to change its position on whether gay boys and men are welcomed to participate as scouts and troop leaders. As a result of today’s vote, Undersecretary Fanning continues to be unfit and unwelcomed to step into the role of a troop leader in the eyes of the Boy Scouts. Why? Because he is a gay man.

Fanning has been deputy undersecretary and deputy chief management officer for the Department of the Navy since July 2009. When Bill Clinton was president, Fanning was a research assistant with the House Armed Services Committee, a special assistant in the Immediate Office of the Secretary of Defense, and an associate director of political affairs at the White House. But because he is gay, the Boy Scouts of America consider him to be unfit as an adult leader for its young members.

Under the new guidelines enacted today, the Boy Scouts will no longer ban or discriminate against gay boys who have the courage to come out to their peers and their troop leaders. That is, until they reach the age of 18. The day they turn 18 years old, according to the new guidelines, these young men become unfit and unwelcomed to participate in Scouting in any capacity. Why, because at 18, they are gay men — no longer gay boys, but gay men. And that, according to the thinking behind the new guidelines, changes everything and renders these former scouts a danger, a menace, a threat to the teenagers who were their peers the day before. And it renders them unfit for the rest of their lives.

What idiocy is this?

It is the kind of idiocy that continues to allow employers in 29 states to fire an employee simply because he or she is gay.

It is the kind of idiocy that is rearing its ugly head in legislative efforts designed to permit anyone to refuse any and all service to gay men and women simply by invoking a First Amendment right to freedom of religious expression.

It is the kind of idiocy that carries with it the moniker homophobia.

And the new guidelines enacted by the Boy Scouts of America, camouflaged as progressive policy, do little more than reinforce this entrenched homophobia. For all intents and purposes, the national council is just passing the buck to the next generation of Boy Scouts of America leaders.

For my part, I have every confidence that this next generation of leaders will have more courage than the current timid group to stand up, to speak up and to act to assure the equal treatment and the equal respect of all American citizens — our Undersecretary of the Air Force included.

Related Reading:

Eagle Scout Zach Wahls Speaks Out Against Boy Scout Gay Ban: VIDEO

Boy Scouts of America Proposes Dropping Ban on Gay Members

Gay Man Confirmed as Air Force Undersecretary

Boy Scouts of America Proposes Dropping Ban on Gay Members

Boy Scouts propose allowing gay scouts but banning gay leaders

Mormon church endorses Scout plan: let gay boys join, keep out gay leaders

Citizen Leaders’ Success: You Can Play Project and the NHL Team Up to Eradicate Homophobia on the Ice

Citizen Leaders are the men, women, young adults and teens who take stock of the kind of world they want to help shape for the people they care about and act to make it so.

—Peter Alduino, Author, The Citizen Leader

In a blog post 9 months ago, I applauded Patrick Burke, Brian Kitts and Glenn Witman as citizen leaders for their efforts to eradicate homophobia from amateur and professional hockey. These three men founded the You Can Play project — an outreach and advocacy program that challenges the culture of homophobia in locker rooms and among fans by focusing instead and only on an athlete’s skills, hard work, heart and competitive spirit.

As a direct result of their efforts since founding the project 12 months, yesterday, the National Hockey League and the NHL Players’ Association announced a groundbreaking partnership with the You Can Play project in what is likely the most comprehensive effort by a major North American sports league to support gay athletes. Hockey News reported, the agreement with You Can Play will see the implementation of an agenda of inclusion throughout the NHL that promotes better understanding of and respect for gay athletes. You Can Play will conduct seminars at the NHL’s rookie symposium and make its resources and personnel available to each individual team as desired. The NHL and NHLPA will work with You Can Play to integrate the project into their Behavioral Health Program to enable players to confidentially seek counseling or simply ask questions about sexual orientation issues.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement, “Our motto is ‘Hockey Is For Everyone,’ and our partnership with You Can Play certifies that position in a clear and unequivocal way. While we believe that our actions in the past have shown our support for the LGBT community, we are delighted to reaffirm through this joint venture with the NHL Players’ Association that the official policy of the NHL is one of inclusion on the ice, in our locker-rooms and in the stands.”

In his statement, Patrick Burke reminds us that the You Can Play Project is not just for pro players. He said, “To me, it’s just as important that a young player playing lacrosse or a 60-year-old playing beer league someplace feel safe in their locker-room. We really want to work on the culture at its core because I believe in any sport, at any level, at any age, at any skill level, you should be able to play sports free of fear.”

Congratulations to Citizen Leaders Patrick Burke, Brian Kitts and Glenn Witman. Bravo to the National Hockey League and the NHL Players’ Association.


NHL, NHLPA combine to form a partnership with You Can Play Project (Hockey News)

NHL, ‘You Can Play’ announce partnership to support gay athletes (LGBTQNation)

Major Sports Leagues Prepare for the ‘I’m Gay’ Disclosure (New York Times)

NHL Announces Support For Gay Rights, Pledges To Fight Homophobia With New Initiative (Huffington Post)

Action Reveals Values: Starbuck’s CEO Schultz Stands Up for the Company’s Value of “Embracing Diversity” (Video)

At Starbucks’ annual shareholders meeting in Seattle, Wash. last Wednesday, CEO Howard Schultz told off an investor who tried to argue that the company’s support for same-gender marriage is bad for business.

The shareholder Tom Strobhar, founder of an anti-gay marriage group, claimed that as a result of the National Organization for Marriage’s boycott of the coffee company, “in the first full quarter after this boycott was announced, our sales and our earnings — shall we say politely — were a bit disappointing.”

Watch as Schultz replies bluntly that Starbucks’s endorsement of marriage equality is not about making money, but about the principle of embracing diversity. Then, he goes on to disabuse the shareholder of the claim that financial returns were disappointing.

Schultz finishes, “if you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much,” Schultz said, to applause from the audience.