DOWNERS GROVE, Ill., April 23, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In light of the growing number of state-level Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs) with discriminatory potential, the Technology Councils of North America (TECNA) is calling for federal legislation that affords non-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals. TECNA, which represents more than 50 IT and technology state-based trade organizations with over 22,000 technology-related member companies in North America, supports federal recognition of sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under existing civil rights laws.
TECNA believes religious freedom and nondiscrimination can co-exist but RFRAs are unnecessary. Although many states have RFRAs with built-in or companion legislation prohibiting discrimination, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has identified religious refusal bills with discriminatory potential on the 2015 legislative agenda of 23 states, spurring the need to speak out against RFRAs and advocate for federal legislation to ensure equal protection across all states.
A recent RFRA bill in Indiana that was worded to allow private discrimination against LGBT Americans before it was amended due to outcry from the national business community is the latest example. An analogous bill was passed in Arizona's Legislature last year but was later vetoed by former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer — due in part to pressure from the Arizona Technology Council, a TECNA member.
"As technologists, we are the architects of the future," said TECNA chairman Steven G. Zylstra, who is also president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council. "And we firmly believe in a future where no one loses their job or housing because of whom they are or whom they love. To ensure that all hardworking Americans enjoy freedom and equality, we call on the federal government to protect all LGBT citizens from discrimination and we announce that we are not in support of states adopting RFRAs. That's why we led the effort to rally businesses to oppose Arizona SB 1062 in 2014."
TECNA profoundly objects to any discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, as the technology sector it supports is enriched daily by the efforts and innovations of LGBT workers.
"A technology business in North Carolina should be able to court the same accomplished talent as one in California," said Brooks Raiford, board member and policy chairman of TECNA. "RFRAs could render entire states unwelcoming to gifted technology workers. Such bills are bad for business and bad for workforce development."
TECNA invites all other technology groups and companies to join their fellow technology leaders to personally contact their local representatives and staff in opposition of any pending anti-LBGT legislation, including RFRAs. TECNA also encourages all technology leaders to advocate for nationwide LGBT non-discrimination protections by contacting the HRC at [email protected] and adding your name to the growing list of organizations supporting such measures.
SOURCE Technology Councils of North America (TECNA)