Microsoft is widely acknowledge as one of the most progressive companies in the United States on gay rights. Microsoft has extends employee benefits to same-sex couples, and even includes gender identification in its internal anti-discrimination policies. All that goodwill though isn’t worth two bits when the fundie left decides you’ve strayed off the reservation.
Here’s the story in a nutshell; two Microsoft employees testified in favor of House Bill 1515, and during their testimony they indicated that the company supported the bill. Microsoft had previously determined (January 2005) that their state legislative agenda for the year would focus on issues affecting them like piracy and not unrelated social legislation. A local minister, Ken Hutcherson of Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, noted the testimony and subsequently met with Microsoft senior vice president and general counsel Bradford L. Smith. Hutcherson threatened to organize a national boycott of the company’s products if it did not change its stance on the legislation and fire the two employees. Microsoft declined to act on Hutcherson’s concerns, but did issue a clarification of the testimony about Microsoft corporate support of the legislation, as they had previously decided to take no stance on the bill.
Reaction an April 21st story in The Stranger set off the firestorm on the internet over Microsoft’s lack of support for the bill, even though the bill itself had been defeated in the Senate the day the article was published. The real irony is that all the hand-washing over Microsoft’s change to a “no stance” on this years version of the bill (they had issued letters of support for the bill in previous years) is that Democrats control the House, Senate and Governor’s Office in Washington.
Any guesses as to who might be trying to shift the blame to Microsoft for the loss?
Gay-rights bill falls 1 vote short of becoming state law – [Seattle Times]
L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center Condemns Microsoft’s Withdrawal of Support for Civil Rights Bill, Asks Company to Return Award – [US Newswire]
Text of Ballmer memo – [Seattle Times]
Steve Ballmer’s memo posted, my reply [Scobleizer]
If you guessed the sponsor and lead cheerleader for the bill, Rep. Ed Murray (D), you’re correct!!!