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Apple CEO Tim Cook Again Says Being Gay ‘Is a Gift From God.’ Why It Might Mean More This Time Around

Yesterday Apple CEO Tim Cook told CNN that being gay is “is God’s greatest gift to me,” in an echo of his 2014 coming-out essay for Bloomberg Businessweek. The words have barely changed, but the times have.

For years before Cook came out publicly, the media discussed his sexual orientation. Prominent then-Reuters blogger Felix Salmon wrote a 2011 post on the topic that is no longer available on the site; Cook was included on Out Magazine‘s 2013 power list, which is still available; and MSNBC accidentally televised Cook’s outing in June 2014.

When Cook finally wrote his coming-out essay in October 2014, he had already engaged in various acts of public advocacy, including applauding federal rules against discriminating on the basis of sexuality on Twitter and leading a gay pride parade. In his coming-out essay, he wrote that discrimination had given him “the skin of a rhinoceros,” taught him what it felt like to be a minority, and made him more empathetic, while acknowledging that legalized discrimination still existed in many places.

Still, as he put it in his essay, “America is moving toward marriage equality, and the public figures who have bravely come out have helped change perceptions and made our culture more tolerant.” Not a year later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states could no longer prevent gay people from getting married.

Since then, public figures, including in the U.S. government, have made life more uncertain and difficult for LGBT people and other minorities. Last year Cook, Apple (AAPL), and other companies made public statements against federal attempts to allow employers to discriminate based on sexuality.

So despite progress since 2014, Cook found himself yesterday repeating things that for many should not need repeating: “My strong view is everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. That’s the way I look at everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, regardless of their religion, their gender, their ethnic history, regardless of their gender identity.”