NEW YORK — When an important social issue intersected with business in Arizona, Corporate America decided it was time to take a stand.
Voicing concern for their employees, customers and bottom lines, companies from American Airlines to Verizon used threats of reduced business to help convince Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to veto legislation that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to gays based on the owner's religious beliefs.
Companies have long spoken out about issues they felt threatened their bottom lines, such as taxation and the minimum wage. The strong opposition to the Arizona bill signals an acknowledgement by businesses that it's not just economic policies that can be harmful to their profits. They need to be more willing than ever to wade into social issues.
Companies also recognize that many of their employees and customers are gay and try to foster an open and inviting corporate environment.
The measure Brewer vetoed Wednesday night would have allowed people to cite their religious beliefs as a defense against claims of discrimination. She faced pressure from gay rights supporters, prominent politicians and local businesses. But ultimately, it might have been the national business community that tipped the scales.
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