Bay Area CEO: Jeb Bush Open to Changing His Views on Indiana Law

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Jeb Bush’s Wednesday arrival in the Bay Area may have been met with initial criticism for his support of Indiana’s religious freedom law–which proponents, including Bush, say protects religious rights, while critics suggest it provides grounds for discrimination against LGBT Americans. But by the time he finished Thursday’s fundraisers, he had convinced at least one major donor that he was perhaps open to adjusting his views to appease a more liberal base. CEO Marc Benioff reportedly met with Bush at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel while he was in San Francisco. He praised Bush for being “extremely receptive” to the concerns regarding potential gay and lesbian discrimination surrounding the law of which both Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed amended versions, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Benioff then said Bush “obviously changed his views this week” and that “we will continue to see evolution and growth” in the discussion of the issue nationally.

Yet a Bush representative reportedly came out and challenged Benioff’s portrayal of Bush’s views, revealing in an email that his “views on the need for protecting religious freedom without discrimination have not changed.”

Attendees reportedly told the Chronicle that while they believed Bush listened to their concerns, his comments from Thursday’s fundraiser were “aligned with” his comments from Wednesday’s at the Four Seasons in Palo Alto.

A transcript of Wednesday’s event from the Chronicle had Bush’s statements on it. Bush said discrimination based on sexual orientation should not exist and suggested that Indiana was likely headed to a place where the perception of said discrimination would be decreased or removed. He then said:

If you’re a florist and you don’t want to participate in the arrangement of a wedding, you shouldn’t have to be obliged to do that if it goes against your faith because you believe in traditional marriage. Likewise if someone walked into a flower shop as a gay couple and said I want to buy all these off the rack, these flowers, they should have every right to do it. But forcing someone to participate in a wedding is not discrimination; it is I think protecting the first amendment right.

The decision to amend the religious freedom law reportedly came after dozens of major CEOs from companies like Apple, Twitter, Square, Yahoo, and even Benioff’s threatened they would not do business in the Hoosier State as a way of protesting the law. Nonetheless, the Chronicle said Benioff suggested the success of those protests was “not just about Silicon Valley.”

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz.


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