Apple, Facebook, Google cheer on San Francisco Gay Pride parade

Sun Jun 29, 2014 7:31pm EDT
 
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By Christina Farr

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc, Facebook Inc and other prominent Silicon Valley technology companies flew the flag for gay rights at the San Francisco Pride Festival on Sunday as they sought to boost morale among employees and reflect a corporate culture of diversity.

Thousands of Apple employees donned specially designed T shirts at the festival and marched in unison. This year's turnout was largest in the company's history, several Apple employees told Reuters.

The San Francisco event was one of many Gay Pride parades held across the United States on Sunday.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook made a surprise appearance at the San Francisco event to greet employees and their families early in the morning, but did not march in the parade himself.

Apple has a long history of supporting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. The company recently came out against an Arizona bill that would permit businesses to refuse service on religious grounds, a measure that critics said could allow discrimination against gay people. [ID:nL1N0LV2S3]

In an unusual step for the sometimes secretive Apple, the company has spoken out about its support for the Pride festival. To help attendees navigate the packed event, the company set up a dedicated LGBT station on iTunes Radio and featured several apps on its App Store, including the Find My Friends app. Company employees also handed out iTunes gift cards to bystanders.

"Apple believes equality and diversity make us stronger, and we're proud to support our employees and their friends and families in this weekend’s celebration," Apple spokeswoman Michaela Wilkinson said.

Fellow tech firms Google Inc and Facebook also spent several days planning their festival debuts. Hundreds of employees showed up at this year's parade.   Continued...