In the midst of its fight to support refugees and immigrants, the tech industry is already gearing up for another bout following reports that the Trump administration could be planning to sign an executive order that would curtail the legal rights of LGBT people in the name of religious expression.
The rumored expected order would permit for discrimination against LGBT individuals when it comes to employment, social services, business, and adoption, according to LGBTQ Nation. Though not much is known about the details of the order, it is expected to be designed in a manner similar to previous "religious freedom" bills that have made their way through a number of state legislatures. When news of the executive order's existence in draft form first broke earlier this week, the White House responded with a statement affirming the president's commitment to protecting LGBT workers, yet subsequent reports have indicated the order is likely to seek to roll back many legal protections.
A number of tech companies and organizations have said they are monitoring these developments before weighing in, but already a handful of firms have said they plan to oppose the order. Most notably, an Tennessee, Indiana, and North Carolina.Uber spokeswoman said the company will likely oppose the order as the company previously opposed legislation in
Joining Uber is Flipboard, the social magazine startup, which issued a statement supporting people who identify as LGBT.
"Every person deserves protection from discrimination, including members of the LGBTQ community," said Flipboard CEO Mike McCue. "This is a matter of human rights. As an organization, we will not support anything to the contrary."
Another company that has spoken out early is Techstars, the popular startup accelerator.
"Techstars helps entrepreneurs succeed, and we accept entrepreneurs of all backgrounds, races, religions, and sexual orientation," said Jenny Lawton, Techstars COO, in a statement. "Techstars is an all-inclusive organization where all are safe from discrimination. We do not support any action that compromises any one person's basic human rights."
One industry insider said an executive order of this type would be treated as a "nuclear" attack.
"Every worker in the tech industry has LGBTQ friends, family, or co-workers. Our employee delegations to the pride parades number in the thousands," the person said. "If Trump wants to start a war with Silicon Valley, this is an excellent way to do it."
Already, the tech industry has stood up to Trump in opposition of his anti-immigration executive orders. Several leaders around the industry have spoken out while many of them have also donated tens of thousands of dollars to the American Civil Liberties Union to oppose the actions. At Google, the company's work force walked out of its offices on Monday in solidarity with their colleagues who have been affected by the order. Should Trump go through with an order allowing for discriminatory treatment of LGBT people, the tech industry will likely enter that fight as well, several leaders of the tech diversity movement said.
"The tech industry is no longer willing to sit around, be quiet, and let things happen," said Arlan Hamilton, a venture capitalist with Backstage Capital.
"LGBTQ tech workers face discrimination every day, especially those who also identify as people of color," said Leanne Pittsford, founder and CEO of Lesbians Who Tech, an organization that represents 20,000 LGBT women. "President Trump is making a mistake by rolling back commonsense and widely supported protections for LGBTQ contractors and federal employees."
Isaac Schlueter, the CEO of NPM, an Oakland startup that makes a popular developer tool, said his company will strongly oppose this order should it be issued. Schlueter, who identifies as queer, said he plans to continue contributing to organizations like the ACLU to fight against these types of orders. Additionally, Schlueter said NPM will refuse to do business with any companies that exercise the order as a means to discriminate against LGBT people.
Schlueter said he expects many of his fellow entrepreneurs and innovators to oppose the order as well, citing the industry's history of being progressive on social issues.
"So much of what has made California, the United States, and Silicon Valley a leader in tech in the world has been our global reach and our inclusivity," Schlueter said. "I suspect that the majority of the tech community will be pretty firmly against a lot of the things that are coming out of this slew of executive orders."