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Tech Leaders Call For States To Pass LGBT Protections, Ban Denial Of Services

Update: Joint statement from 70 tech leaders comes in the midst of a national debate over religious liberty measures.

Last updated on April 1, 2015, at 12:48 p.m. ET

Posted on April 1, 2015, at 12:48 p.m. ET

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence speaks question during a news conference, Tuesday, March 31, 2015, in Indianapolis.
Darron Cummings / AP

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence speaks question during a news conference, Tuesday, March 31, 2015, in Indianapolis.

WASHINGTON — Amid a national debate over religious liberty bills being considered in several states, nearly 40 top tech leaders have joined together in urging states to provide protections for LGBT people in state civil rights laws and explicitly ban denial of services to people.

"Religious freedom, inclusion, and diversity can co-exist and everyone including LGBT people and people of faith should be protected under their states' civil rights laws," the statement issued by the tech group reads.

Max Levchin, the CEO of Affirm, was the organizer of the effort, working with the Human Rights Campaign on the statement and gathering the 39 signatories, who range from Dick Costolo of Twitter to the heads of eBay and PayPal.

"To ensure no one faces discrimination and ensure everyone preserves their right to live out their faith," the group urges, "we call on all legislatures to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes to their civil rights laws and to explicitly forbid discrimination or denial of services to anyone."

The statement comes as Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Wednesday morning that he was urging his state's legislature to revise recently passed religious liberty legislation in order to ensure that it more closely tracked the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who signed his state's RFRA into law last week, and state legislative leaders are in discussions about amending or repealing that law.

"If anything can be learned from the battle for fairness and equality in Indiana, Arkansas, and other states, it's that LGBT people deserve to be protected from unjust discrimination," Levchin said. "We are proud to stand on the side of liberty and justice and call on all legislatures to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in non-discrimination protections. This will ensure that no one faces discrimination while everyone preserves their right to live out their faith."

Chad Griffin, the president of HRC, said of the statement, "This unprecedented and historic effort by the giants of the tech industry should be a clarion call to policymakers that discriminating against LGBT people is not acceptable in today's marketplace of ideas. These leaders have made it clear: if states want high tech jobs, they must put fully inclusive nondiscrimination protections in place immediately."

On Thursday, the Human Rights Campaign announced that the list had grown to 70 signatories.

Here is the full updated list of signatories:

Max Levchin, CEO, Affirm
Mark Pincus, Chairman, Zynga
Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO, Yelp
Marc Benioff, CEO, Salesforce
Jack Dorsey, CEO, Square
Dick Costolo, CEO, Twitter
Logan Green, CEO, Lyft
Brian Chesky, CEO, Airbnb
Joe Gebbia, CPO, Airbnb
Nathan Blecharczyk, CTO, Airbnb
Ron Conway, Founder, SV Angel
John Donahoe, CEO, Ebay
Paul Graham, CoFounder, YCombinator
Rich Barton, Chairman, Zillow Group
Chad Hurley, CEO, Mixbit
Adora Cheung, CEO, Homejoy
Phil Libin, CEO, Evernote
Trevor Traina, CEO, IfOnly
Nirav Tolia, CEO, Nextdoor
Dion Lim, CEO, NextLesson
Bret Taylor, CEO, Quip
Joe Lonsdale, Managing Partner, Formation 8
Thomas Layton, Chairman, Elance-odesk
Fabio Rosati, CEO, Elance-odesk
Dave Morin, CEO, Path
Mark Goldstein, Chairman, BackOps
Kevin Rose, CEO, North Technologies
Yves Behar, CCO, Jawbone
Padmasree Warrior, CTSO, Cisco Systems
Tony Conrad, CEO, about.me
Sunil Paul, CEO, Sidecar
Michael Moritz, Chairman, Sequoia Capital
Dan Schulman, President, PayPal
Devin Wenig, President, eBay Marketplaces
Robert Hohman, CEO, Glassdoor
Laurene Powell Jobs, Founder and Chair, Emerson Collective
Mohan Warrior, CEO, Alphalight
David Spector, CEO, ThirdLove
Shervin Pishevar, CoFounder, Sherpa Ventures
David Karp, CEO, Tumblr
Reid Hoffman, Chairman, Linkedin
Kevin Ryan, Chairman, Gilt
Michael Birch, CoFounder, Bebo
Hosain Rahman, CEO, Jawbone
John Zimmer, President, Lyft
Bill Ready, CEO, Braintree
Jon Oringer, CEO, Shutterstock Images
Drew Houston, CEO, Dropbox
Bijan Sabet, General Partner, Spark Capital
Douglas Merrill, CEO, ZestFinance
Tom Sheahan, CEO, RedOxygen
Brian Samelson, CEO, eMaint.com
Jeff Weiner, CEO, LinkedIn
Daniel Lurie, CEO, Tipping Point Community
Aaron Levie, CEO, Box
Jeff Weiner, CEO, Linkedin
Gary Moore, President & COO, Cisco
Travis Katz, CEO, Gogobot
Joe Davis, CEO, Webtrends
Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft
Brad Smith, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Microsoft
Josh Kopelman, Partner, First Round Capital
Rob Glaser, CEO, Realnetworks
Brian Krzanich, CEO, Intel
Jason Goldberg, CEO, Hem
Evan Reece, CEO, Liftopia
Dave Gilboa, CoFounder, Warby Parker
Neil Blumenthal, CoFounder, Warby Parker
Sean Parker, Chairman, Airtime
Reed Hastings, CEO, Netflix
Charles Phillips, CEO, Infor

Read the full "Joint Statement from Tech Industry Leaders":

The values of diversity, fairness and equality are central to our industry. These values fuel creativity and inspiration, and those in turn make the U.S. technology sector the most admired in the world today.

We believe it is critically important to speak out about proposed bills and existing laws that would put the rights of minorities at risk. The transparent and open economy of the future depends on it, and the values of this great nation are at stake.

Religious freedom, inclusion, and diversity can co-exist and everyone including LGBT people and people of faith should be protected under their states' civil rights laws. No person should have to fear losing their job or be denied service or housing because of who they are or whom they love.

However, right now those values are being called into question in states across the country. In more than twenty states, legislatures are considering legislation that could empower individuals or businesses to discriminate against LGBT people by denying them service if it they felt it violated their religious beliefs.

To ensure no one faces discrimination and ensure everyone preserves their right to live out their faith, we call on all legislatures to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes to their civil rights laws and to explicitly forbid discrimination or denial of services to anyone.

Anything less will only serve to place barriers between people, create hurdles to creativity and inclusion, and smother the kind of open and transparent society that is necessary to create the jobs of the future. Discrimination is bad for business and that's why we've taken the time to join this joint statement.

The list provided to BuzzFeed News initially identified the wrong David Spector. The signer is CEO of ThirdLove, not Penny Mac.

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