Alabama anti-discrimination bill to be named after Apple's Tim Cook

BIRMINGHAM - An anti-discrimination bill championed by Alabama's only openly gay lawmaker will bear the name of Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook, a native of the state who came out as gay in October.

Democratic state Representative Patricia Todd said on Wednesday the technology giant was initially hesitant about having Cook's name on her bill but later embraced the idea.

Cook came out days after accepting an Alabama Academy of Honor award with a speech critical of the socially conservative state's lack of progress on rights for gay people.

"Nobody could have scripted this," said Todd, who plans to introduce her bill in the Alabama legislative session beginning in March.

"I never in a million years would have expected it." In the days after Cook came out, Todd told reporters she would put his name on a bill she has introduced in past years to bar discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teachers and state employees.

The bill has gained little traction.

Cook said she was speaking in jest about using Cook's name, but her comments were published and came to the attention of Apple.

Todd said she received a call early last month from a company official who expressed concern over Cook's name being attached to such a politically sensitive measure.

Todd said she told the official she would not name the bill after Cook.

But after that conversation was reported by BuzzFeed earlier this week, Todd received a call from the company's general counsel, Bruce Sewell, who told her Cook would be delighted to have the bill named after him, she said.

In a statement provided to Reuters, Apple said: "Tim was honoured to hear that State Rep. Todd wanted to name an antidiscrimination bill after him, and we're sorry if there was any miscommunication about it. We have a long history of support for LGBT rights and we hope every state will embrace workplace equality for all."

Todd said she hoped Cook could come to the Legislature and speak on the bill's behalf, particularly its value in attracting business and talent to the state. "We have extended the invitation to him, but he is a busy man and of course Apple comes first," she said. "I hope he can fit it into his schedule."