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Tech leaders urge Texas governor to veto 'discriminatory' laws

(Reuters/Jonathan Drake/File Photo)A sign protesting a recent North Carolina law restricting transgender bathroom access is seen in the bathroom stalls at the 21C Museum Hotel in Durham, North Carolina May 3, 2016.

Tech leaders representing Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and other companies have sent a letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, urging him not to pass "any discriminatory legislation."

Abbott is expected to sign HB 3859, also known as the Freedom to Serve Children Act, which would protect faith-based adoption and foster care agencies from legal retribution for declining to place children in homosexual-led households.

The Texas House has also passed SB 2078, which prohibits students in public schools from using bathrooms or restrooms that correspond with their gender identities. The bill, which was an amended version of SB 6 or the Women's Privacy Act, also requires schools to provide single-stall restrooms, locker rooms and changing facilities to transgender students.

In a letter dated May 27, the CEOs of 14 top tech companies urged Abbott to veto "any discriminatory legislation," but it does not specifically mention HB 3859 or SB 2078.

"As large employers in the state, we are gravely concerned that any such legislation would deeply tarnish Texas' reputation as open and friendly to businesses and families," the CEOs wrote.

"Our ability to attract, recruit and retain top talent, encourage new business relocations, expansions and investment, and maintain our economic competitiveness would all be negatively affected," the tech leaders continued.

The signatories of the letter include Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Amazon CEO Jeff Wilke, IBM Chairman Ginni Rometty, Microsoft Corp. President Brad Smith and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

According to The Dallas Morning News, the letter was sent just days before the state legislators were scheduled to end the 2017 regular legislative session.

Abbott had been silent on the issue surrounding the bathroom-related legislation, but he had urged lawmakers to find a compromise on the issue.

The Senate has reportedly rejected the House's amended version of the bathroom bill because it has stripped away too much from the original measure, which was originally intended to keep individuals from using opposite-sex restrooms and facilities in all public buildings

Opponents of the bill have compared it to Jim Crow-era policies that segregated bathrooms based on race, but supporters have insisted that the measure was about child safety and was not intended to be discriminatory.

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick described the legislation as "a common sense, privacy and public safety policy for everyone." The bill's author, Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, said that the measure would "strike a balance to protect all of us when we find ourselves in the intimate spaces, vulnerable spaces."

After the regular legislative session ended on May 29 without taking action on the legislation, Abbott said that he would soon announce whether to call a special session to pass the bathroom bill. The governor had promised to sign any bathroom legislation that would reach his desk.

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