OFF THE WALL: What has the Indiana law got to do with my investments?

By Daniel de la Rosa

When Indiana passed its ‘religious freedom’ law, I did not realize it would affect my decision to buy stocks moving forward.

The controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) allowing business owners to deny service to gay individuals on religious grounds was widely criticized. Many parts of the country were up in arms and called for a boycott of the Hoosier State. I’m one of them.

As the father of a queer daughter, I am against the law. I love my daughter so very much, and I believe she is entitled to equal treatment as all Americans. She deserves professional service in a restaurant or a store anywhere around the country.

This law is making me rethink my next investment decision. With corporate chieftains, such as Apple CEO Tim Cook and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, lambasting the law as discriminatory and “unjust,” I am seriously considering supporting them in my own small way.

Normally, I would not buy stocks of The stock closed last Thursday at $66.68, just a few bucks from the 52-week top of $71. The price is too high and I usually stay away from companies where I feel I don’t understand enough of what they do as a business.

Salesforce provides cloud computing technology to facilitate sales and marketing processes around the world. For now, the company has negative income and everything they earn is poured into the business. But it’s been hailed as an “innovative” and “most admired’ company, and that’s a good start.

Then I heard Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff talk about the religious freedom law in Indiana. He called the law “brutal” and “unjust,” declaring he gave one employee $50,000 to relocate out of the state.

Benioff and Apple CEO Tim Cook, who denounced the law as discriminatory and “dangerous,” led the charge against Indiana’s law.

How about that.

Used to be CEOs were the first to steer clear of social issues. Their business is to make money for shareholders and not to change the world.

Apple is already one of my biggest holdings. Given how aggressively Benioff came out against the law, I am seriously looking at his company. This is not just an investment decision. This is personal.

No one is preventing anyone from practicing their religious beliefs, or even if you don’t believe in a God at all. RFRA promotes bigotry pure and simple. Given the specter of racism that has haunted this country, there is no place for it in our lives.

When people like Cook and Benioff and other CEOs denounced the law and began pulling investments out of the state, Indiana officials were forced to find a quick face-saving way to tweak the legislation and make it palatable. Indiana could easily ignore important activists like George Takei who first called attention about the perils of the law. But the state could not afford to let go of big corporations, like Apple or Walmart. Jobs would be lost and politicians would be out of work.

‘Off the Wall’ is a regular column on the stock market. The comments expressed here are the author’s own, and are not meant to recommend the buying or selling of stocks

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