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Apple CEO Tim Cook gives 'substantial' sum to gay rights initiative

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Apple CEO Tim Cook, who recently decided to publicly announce he is "proud to be gay," has made a "substantial" donation to a cause promoting gay rights in the U.S. South, including his home state of Alabama.

Activists said Cook made a hefty private donation to the Human Rights Campaign's Project One America, an initiative working toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas, reports Reuters.

"When Tim first learned about HRC's Project One America - our bold, comprehensive campaign to dramatically advance equality for LGBT Americans in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi - he said, 'I'm in,'" according to an HRC blog post.

Cook came out as gay in an essay published by Bloomberg in October, just days after calling for LGBT rights in his native Alabama.

"We hope Tim Cook's substantial personal investment inspires others to support this vital and historic project," said HRC spokesman Jason Rahlan.

According to HRC, Project One America is taking aim at the three U.S. states because they lack non-discrimination protections for LGBT individuals and are among 15 states with bans on same-sex marriage. With backing from its 1.5 million members and a three-year budget of $8.5 million, the group plans to deliver television advertisements, send out mailers and conduct community outreach programs in 2015.