Sports gear manufacturing giant Nike Inc. has endorsed the passage of two pieces of Oregon legislation that would allow for further protection of gays and lesbians against discrimination and toward the creation of same-sex civil unions. The Oregon-based company sent their approval in a letter Tuesday to Oregon senate president Peter Courtney and other legislative leaders in support of senate bills 1000 and 1073. "Nike is committed to diversity and inclusion and strives to treat our employees equally without regard to sexual orientation or marital status," wrote vice president of global human resources Wes Coleman. "Many of our employees' lives will be better because of the passage of these bills."
Senate Bill 1000 would prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodation, services, and education on the basis of sexual orientation. Senate Bill 1073 would provide most of the rights and protections of marriage to same-sex couples through the creation of civil unions.
The letter went on to highlight the importance of the creation of civil unions "as a meaningful complement to the nondiscrimination position Nike has taken previously." According to Nike Inc., civil unions would promote inclusion by providing all their employees the opportunity to enter into lasting permanent relationships without regard to sexual orientation.
Leading gay rights organization Basic Rights Oregon voiced approval for Nike's endorsement. "We applaud Nike for taking seriously its ethical responsibility, not simply to promote Oregon business, but Oregon values of fairness, equality, dignity, and respect," said BRO in a press release Tuesday. "They know as we know that protection from discrimination and a growing economy are not mutually exclusive but mutually beneficial."
Nike, which has a record of leadership in support of diversity and nondiscrimination as recognized by the Human Rights Campaign, is Oregon's only Fortune 500 company.