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Microsoft refuses to support gay rights bill
April 21, 2005 1:37 PM   Subscribe

Microsoft pulls support for gay rights. Under pressure from a local conservative church, Microsoft - long honored for their progressive stance on GBLT rights - quietly pulled its support for a Washington State law that would have made discrimination based on sexual orientation illegal. Today, the Washington State Senate killed the bill by a vote of 24-25.
posted by falconred (91 comments total)

 
This is a strange case.

Microsoft is probably one of the 5 most powerful corporations in the world. Why the hell are they knuckling under to some 2-bit church? So they threatened to boycott, big deal, it can't hurt microsoft, they're a fucking monopoly, right? Or is there going to be a mass holy roller exodus to the even more touchy-feely commie-liberal Apple? I don't see that happening.

Gates is an unbelievable pussy.
posted by jonmc at 1:43 PM on April 21, 2005


I doubt Bill himself had much to do with the decision
posted by leotrotsky at 1:51 PM on April 21, 2005


Fuck Microsoft management and fuck Bill Gates.
posted by AlexReynolds at 1:51 PM on April 21, 2005


Yet another reason to not use their shitty products. As if I needed anymore but this is pretty pisspoor behaviour.

On Preview: AlexReynolds, yeah, fuck him right in the ass, hard.
posted by fenriq at 1:52 PM on April 21, 2005


Americablog says they need state/local approval for a gigantic expansion of their campus.

It is appalling but not surprising, given the current climate.
posted by amberglow at 1:58 PM on April 21, 2005


M$ products piss me off and, by and large, suck. But Gates himself, dickwad though he may be in some ways, isn't such a bad guy in the "culture war" arena. He's donated a ton of money to some pretty good causes through that Gates Foundation of his. Some of the other M$ mucky-mucks have been pretty good to us liberals, too.

Make no mistake, I think this sucks. I just don't think it's that simple.
posted by gurple at 2:00 PM on April 21, 2005


Wait, Microsoft isn't against gay rights. Microsoft stopped actively lobbying for gay rights.

There's a huge difference.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 2:04 PM on April 21, 2005


microsoft has merely delayed implementation of gayrights™ until service pack 4.
posted by quonsar at 2:07 PM on April 21, 2005


Hold on. Maybe if MS admits that the boycott can't hurt them, they'd be admitting that they're a monopoly.

Cagey fucks.
posted by jonmc at 2:08 PM on April 21, 2005


There's a huge difference.

Not if you're just looking for further excuses to say you dislike Microsoft. If this had been Steve Jobs rather than Bill Gates, folks would be lining up to say it was nice that he tried but he needs local folks to let him expand his campus of Good Works.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:09 PM on April 21, 2005


Should giant corporations be writing our laws anyway?
Oh wait......
nevermind.
posted by spilon at 2:11 PM on April 21, 2005


Y would MS support a bill about gay rights? All them gays use fancy Macs and iPods. hehe just kidding.
posted by adnanbwp at 2:13 PM on April 21, 2005


I've been tossing the idea around for awhile, but this is just one more reason to wander over to the Apple and Linux camp . . .
Screw Microsoft, I hope this leads to a boycott that affects them so much that other corporations finally take notice.
Now watch absolutely nothing happen on the boycott side of things . . .
posted by mk1gti at 2:13 PM on April 21, 2005


It's not just one 2-bit church saying they'll stop buying; they threatened to launch a national boycott. As batshit as it is, that happens these days: states giving intellegent design enough credibility to hold debates, the president wanted an amendment to the freaking Constitution to outlaw gay marrages. Before long, red state governments would've been petitioned to mandate open-source or other software in all goverment offices.

I think Microsoft should have stood their ground, but they still support their own employees and instantly drop vendors who discriminate. They're a public company with shareholders to answer to. They still do as much as the competition for gay rights.
posted by skyline at 2:14 PM on April 21, 2005


Wait, Microsoft isn't against gay rights. Microsoft stopped actively lobbying for gay rights.

There's a huge difference.


Yes, but this is a huge missed opportunity. Microsoft is pretty much boycott-proof and this was a chance for a major corporation to set the example for other responsible companies. It's shameful for those of us in liberal Seattle that once-progressive Microsoft is just another General Motors.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 2:17 PM on April 21, 2005


Wait, Microsoft isn't against gay rights. Microsoft stopped actively lobbying for gay rights.

Well, from my point of view this is an example of the worst kind of ally the gay rights movement can have, an organization that lobbies for gay rights when it is advantageous to them (by creating a friendly work environment through domestic partner benefits), but runs away when the heat is on.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:18 PM on April 21, 2005


Also at AMERICAblog:
"It's hard to reach any other conclusion than that Microsoft just screwed us. The bill lost by one vote, and it's hard to imagine that Microsoft, run by the richest man in the world, couldn't have had some influence on which way that one vote swung, especially when Microsoft's own member of the Senate is a moderate R and voted the wrong way.

Microsoft has been a champion of gay rights for years. But by the admission of their own staff, as quoted in The Stranger, they've decided to reevaluate how much they get involved in these kind of political debates, and clearly their reevaluation has told them to get LESS involved, not MORE.

Microsoft, for whatever reason, has decided it's time to pull back from its previous decade long (if not more) support for civil rights in general, and the civil rights of gays and lesbians in specific. That's not only sad and infuriating, it's also incredibly ominous. It means the culture wars have taken their toll on the richest man in the world, and one of the biggest companies in America. It means that Microsoft may very well go soft on it's pro-gay advocacy in other states and at the national level. And finally, it means that other companies may now follow Microsoft's lead and jilt the gays as well.

Hell, if the richest man in the world thinks helping the homos is bad business, who's to argue?...Shame on Microsoft. It had the chance to stand up and show the country that you can do well by doing good. But instead it sat by and shut up while our civil rights went down in flames. And yes, Microsoft was great on gay rights issues in the past. But that's all the more reason to be confused and troubled by their actions today..."
posted by ericb at 2:19 PM on April 21, 2005


It could have turned into a call for all conservative Christians to boycott Microsoft, which could be nasty -- these are nasty people, remember (which does not excuse Microsoft, but rather shames the company for not standing up to them).

Still, I love the idea of the entire American religious right moving to Linux.
posted by QuietDesperation at 2:20 PM on April 21, 2005


If Apple had done the same thing (and I cannot imagine them being this unutterably stupid) I would be casting them into the abyss.

That it is yet another reason to dislike the company does not, in the least, change the fact that they caved to extortion by a religious group. That's pathetic.
posted by fenriq at 2:21 PM on April 21, 2005


Q: How do you spell "Microsoft"?

A: C-o-o-r-s

from AMERICAblog
posted by ericb at 2:21 PM on April 21, 2005


microsoft is a wealthy and powerful crime family, and the sooner we treat them as such, the better
posted by troybob at 2:26 PM on April 21, 2005


If Apple had done the same thing (and I cannot imagine them being this unutterably stupid)

Instead, Apple hasn't entered the debate at all. Just to keep this in perspective.
posted by skyline at 2:26 PM on April 21, 2005


When will these people realize their business model is outdated? We simply don't want Gay Rights Management (GRM) in anything we buy!
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:39 PM on April 21, 2005


microsoft is a wealthy and powerful crime family, and the sooner we treat them as such, the better

Uh, they are? And here I thought they just made buggy operating systems, and kick-ass gaming consoles...

Take the histrionics down a bit...
posted by SweetJesus at 2:50 PM on April 21, 2005


the question to ask yourselves is whether the gay community has been supporting microsoft.

microsoft is a business and every business decision is based on coin.

whatever "altruistic" support microsoft has offered to the gay community, it was an investment expecting a return.

if that investment has not paid off, why should microsoft continue to pump money into it?
posted by three blind mice at 2:59 PM on April 21, 2005


Seriously, it's obvious that this isn't the "fault" of Microsoft. It's just another example of the very real power that the religious extremists have and wield in the U.S. I imagine that Hutcherson's ego is ballooning big time - getting the almighty Microsoft to bend to your will. Wow, too bad YHWH doesn't like pride.
posted by melt away at 3:13 PM on April 21, 2005


...especially when Microsoft's own member of the Senate is a moderate R and voted the wrong way.

Microsoft's own member? I can't remember anyone stating the truth quite that baldly before. Reminds me of Rollerball (shudder).

Somebody should have told explained the definition of an honest politician : one who stays bribed.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 3:17 PM on April 21, 2005


Microsoft's own member?

huh huh. Huh huh.
posted by gurple at 3:25 PM on April 21, 2005


This is poor form.
Microsoft could have made a difference here, and they took the decision to not make that difference. I don't care if this was a financial thing or not. As far as I'm concerned, they may as well have written the bill and signed it off themselves.

There's some kickass quote about not fighting against tyranny being as bad as tyranny which I am unable to find. It would have been apt.
posted by seanyboy at 3:28 PM on April 21, 2005


If this had been Steve Jobs rather than Bill Gates

Let's stop it with that "if x had been different then y would say z" crap, as it is invariably self-serving bullshit.
posted by clevershark at 3:31 PM on April 21, 2005


Still, I love the idea of the entire American religious right moving to Linux.

QuietDesperation, are you sure?
posted by telstar at 3:34 PM on April 21, 2005


Actually I'm guessing that Microsoft would be against any and all expansion of workers' rights, as it tends to wreak havoc with their "let's hire so-called consultants (who'll work with us for years) so we can fire them at will" policies.
posted by clevershark at 3:35 PM on April 21, 2005


Holy cow telstar!

Who knew there were so many Gay, Satanist, HACKERS working in the computer field. Good thing there's a SAFE LINUX out there...
posted by Windopaene at 3:40 PM on April 21, 2005


MayorCurley hits it right on the nose.

I'm way more disturbed that MS could have any impact on any bills passed, local or otherwise. Painting MS as fagbashers becuase they're not actively supporting some gay rights bill is pretty sensationalist.
posted by Josh Zhixel at 3:52 PM on April 21, 2005


Quest Systems Linux is good many OPEN SOURCE and not satanist or abducter....
Maybe I'm perverse, but if I ever buy Linux, I'm buying Quest Systems Linux.
posted by seanyboy at 3:58 PM on April 21, 2005


Waaaiit a second here. MeFites complain constantly about corporate influence over government, right? And how the American political process has too much influence from corproations. Now we're advocating that Microsoft inflence the political process, so long as it suits our ends?

Trust me, I'm all for gay rights (live in San Francisco, have several friends who got married last year when Newsom opened up gay marriage), but do I really want to achieve that end by advocating for more corporate control of government?

I'm way more disturbed that MS could have any impact on any bills passed, local or otherwise

Beat me to it. Shouldn't Microsoft's decision to step out of politics be viewed as GOOD thing?
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 4:20 PM on April 21, 2005


I would have liked to see this evangelical church just go ahead and TRY to boycott Microsoft.
posted by salad spork at 4:26 PM on April 21, 2005


Shouldn't Microsoft's decision to step out of politics be viewed as GOOD thing?
To be contrary... I think that coorporations trying to influence Governments is a good thing. However, when Governments listen to those companies, then that's a bad thing. MS have the power, and if they don't use it, then some other company will.
posted by seanyboy at 4:26 PM on April 21, 2005


microsoft is a business and every business decision is based on coin.

That's what makes this decision especially baffling. If this was some small outfit teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, I'd understand the decision and be inclined to cut some slack. But if any organization would be able to weather a boycott, it'd be Microsoft. Did this preacher have something to blackmail them with or something?
posted by jonmc at 4:28 PM on April 21, 2005


I would have liked to see this evangelical church just go ahead and TRY to boycott Microsoft.
They'd be stuffed for sending emails to their congressmen. Last time I heard, AOL only worked on Windows and OS-X.
posted by seanyboy at 4:29 PM on April 21, 2005


My guess: Microsoft is betting on intolerance and bigotry under the guise of "respect" having a bigger influence then open mindness, tolerance.

And they're wrong, they're going to lose. But fear not, they'll flip flop as any republicass or librul would.
posted by elpapacito at 4:41 PM on April 21, 2005


So much for living in a blue state.
posted by Tenuki at 5:09 PM on April 21, 2005


I suspect they are just developing their own version of 'the gay' that will be incompatible with other relationship formats.
posted by srboisvert at 6:11 PM on April 21, 2005


Fuck Microsoft. If anyone should have the clout to support shit like this, it should be them.
posted by McBain at 6:12 PM on April 21, 2005


Yes, they will flip flop as the circumstances warrant. A theory: the last election was so close that the big political minds out there are going to be looking for subtle ways to tilt the balance back their direction while not losing what they already have.

It seems reasonably clear that both major parties have decided there are more votes in not supporting gay rights than there are in supporting. They both have to be very careful with it but I think we'll see the Dems backing very quietly away and the Republicans ever so carefully pressing their advantage. And MS's behaviour is coming from exactly the same thinking: less publicity points lost by not supporting than gained by supporting.
posted by scheptech at 6:18 PM on April 21, 2005


Someone should stand up to those religious extremists. There aren't as many of them as a lot of people like to think. Reasonable people outnumber them, but they're more organized and make a lot more noise. We give them power by backing down at the slightest threat from them.
posted by mike3k at 6:37 PM on April 21, 2005


Sorry, but I have to agree with what some other people have said.

As much as I (obviously) am in favour of equal rights, aren't we all annoyed at how much corporate interests have invaded government? Isn't it amazing how we complain once that influence, which could have done something we agree with, is withdrawn?

MetaFilter: Hypocrisy when it suits us.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:15 PM on April 21, 2005


dirtynumbangelboy, my generally anti-corporate politics aside, you gotta admit this is weird, especially given Microsoft's previously progressive stance on gay rights and the undeniable ability they have to ride some half-assed boycott out. I'm just wondering what the hell's going on.
posted by jonmc at 7:20 PM on April 21, 2005


Yes, jonmc, it's entirely weird. Astonishing, actually, especially given what an old friend of mine (who used to work at the big M) had to say about GLBT issues on-campus.

That doesn't change, though, the fact that we should be applauding this decision, based on our (lefties, that is) no-corporate-influence-in-government stance.

Or is it time for the left to admit its hypocrisy, as we have been demanding that the right do?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:42 PM on April 21, 2005


Or is it time for the left to admit its hypocrisy, as we have been demanding that the right do?

I'd buy this argument if Microsoft would remove its influence in every other fucking avenue of government activities, here and around the world.

Since they are kicking gay people in the back of the knees, and no one else, this has pretty clearly nothing to do with a no-corporate-influence-in-government argument.

There's no hypocrisy about calling a spade a spade. This is just one more step along the slippery slope of corporations working hand in hand with a theocracy to take rights away from American citizens under Equal Protection clause. Call it what it is.
posted by AlexReynolds at 7:56 PM on April 21, 2005


they... instantly drop vendors who discriminate

skyline, your link doesn't show that. It shows that MS got squeamish about one embarrassing promotional arrangement ("distancing themselves" to avoid alienating a big travel market). Maybe they do have a policy to drop all vendors who discriminate, but can you give us a link where anyone else has ever claimed this?
posted by Zurishaddai at 8:01 PM on April 21, 2005


Dirtynumbangelboy, please try and look at the bigger picture. The decision to support the anti-discrimination measure was clearly utilitarian. Microsoft needs to recruit educated people to work in its corporate headquarters. Recent events have made the NW much less desirable for educated professionals.

The banning anti-discrimination legislation is bad for you, bad for me, bad for Washington state, and bad for the economy as a whole.

I really don't see how Microsoft is being hypocritical. Nobody on the left is asking big corporations not to participate in civil society. They are asking big corporations to participate in civil society civilly, taking into account common interests.

I'm trying hard not to be pissed off by your comment. The anti-gay agenda is seriously jeopardizing American civil liberties. I really don't see how fighting the talibanization of U.S. is dangerous in the least.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 8:05 PM on April 21, 2005


I meant hypocritical in the least.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 8:07 PM on April 21, 2005


No, I'm saying that we are being hypocritical.

Do we oppose corporate involvement in government, or do we oppose it only when it suits our interests?

That's what I'm trying to show here.

gesamtkustwerk and AlexReynolds, I'm as gay as Paris in the springtime. And I am clearly in favour of equal rights as both of you. That said, we have to have some consistency in our views. Yes, it's A Very Bad Thing that Microsoft caved to theological interests. I'm not debating that. However, the enn result is less corporate involvement (admittedly, traded with theological involvement) in politics. Either we support lessening that involvement or we don't.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:11 PM on April 21, 2005


That said, we have to have some consistency in our views.

When has the left sad that corporations shouldn't participate in civil society? I do not oppose legal corporate involvement in issues of good governance. I oppose bribery, patronage, and legal loopholes. I oppose corporate purchase of legislation. I do not oppose participation in the political process. That is neither illegal nor morally dubious.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 8:19 PM on April 21, 2005


I think most of us feel that corporations will always be involved, and that while their money for lobbyists/donations/etc buys them too much influence (witness the Bankruptcy bill, and other laws passed to benefit them and hurt us), it's not so different from non-profits and unions. Look at AARP's influence, for instance. I don't know many people at all calling for complete elimination of corporate participation.
posted by amberglow at 8:24 PM on April 21, 2005


HOMOS DID CLIPPY
posted by quonsar at 8:25 PM on April 21, 2005


I don't know many people at all calling for complete elimination of corporate participation.

Exactly. That would be a fringe an uninspired Marxist fringe, at best.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 8:30 PM on April 21, 2005


Well, not to say I told you so, but what this move by MS illustrates is that progressive politics are often skin deep. Microsoft apparently* supported gay rights because it paid, by attracting skilled gay programmers/developers/etc and in good PR, but when the going got rough they ditched. It's times like this, dangerous times, when you find out who's truly down.

*I say "apparently" because I still wonder what leverage was used. Rarely does stuff like this happen by accident. That's one of my other deeply held beliefs.
posted by jonmc at 8:31 PM on April 21, 2005


I believe, gesamt, that leftist politics tend to include a fairly hardcore stance against corporate interference in government.

Ahh, but you qualify it with 'good governance.' Tell me, who decides what good governance is?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:35 PM on April 21, 2005


totally jon--when it helps them with pr and hiring, they're pro. when they want something and the political winds are blowing, they're not. A boycott threat is meaningless against Microsoft. It's like boycotting the post office. (Unless they really are terrified of linux/open source stuff)
posted by amberglow at 8:40 PM on April 21, 2005


I'm glad to see the backlash this is generating against Microsoft- won't help the bill, but at least maybe they and other corporations will think twice before they act against their employee's. In other good news, this story has accomplished the unthinkable- it got The Stranger (home of Savage Love, just so you folks outside Seattle know) mentioned in the New York Times! (reg required).
posted by spooman at 8:45 PM on April 21, 2005


Well, it may sound like I'm kidding, but I do wonder if there's any credence to my theory that MS is afraid to admit that a boycott wouldn't affect them since that could be seen as admitting that they're a monopoly.

But my point about progressive politics being self-serving, both on a corporate level for $ and on a personal level for 'cred' and 'cool' still stands. The people you can trust are those with no stake whatsoever.
posted by jonmc at 8:45 PM on April 21, 2005


leftist politics tend to include a fairly hardcore stance against corporate interference in government.

First of all, I'm not joining any hardcore cadre in order to earn the mantle of leftist. By good governance, I mean regulations that address human as well as business interests-- decent wages, political stability, civil society. Liberal values embrace legal participation of business interests.

Perhaps you should define "corporate interference" verses legal and legitimate participation in civil society.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 8:46 PM on April 21, 2005


Jesus christ, of course corporate involvement in politics is a "bad thing". BUT you are missing the bigger picture.... religious influence over a giant in the corporate world who had it's hand in politics. Think about what happened with this event. It doesn't mean that Microsoft will completely pull out of politics but rather that the religious extremists will be able to literally tell them what do in the political arena in the future. Not to mention what the "threat of a boycott" by the extremists could do to influence Microsoft's own internal policies. The fundamentalists just made the behemoth their bitch.
posted by melt away at 8:49 PM on April 21, 2005


Well, it may sound like I'm kidding, but I do wonder if there's any credence to my theory that MS is afraid to admit that a boycott wouldn't affect them since that could be seen as admitting that they're a monopoly.

It might be more banal than that.

Admitting gays, lesbians and bisexuals are human beings would mean protection under the law. That means increased benefits costs and opening themselves up to liability suits. $$$

I'm sure Microsoft Corporate took a look at the dollars and cents and took the appropriate decision for their shareholders.
posted by AlexReynolds at 9:20 PM on April 21, 2005


Registration-free version of NYT's article (to which spooman refers above) is here.
posted by ericb at 9:22 PM on April 21, 2005


but they probably give partner benefits anyway, no? they already know it makes for good pr and happy employees.
posted by amberglow at 9:22 PM on April 21, 2005


they do give benefits, so it's not the added cost. it was the threat. melt away is absolutely right.
posted by amberglow at 9:23 PM on April 21, 2005


I guess I meant discrimination suits and such. Even if Microsoft gives partner benefits, we still have no rights under the Equal Protection clause from other issues.
posted by AlexReynolds at 10:05 PM on April 21, 2005


So here's something interesting... I took a look at Antioch Bible Church's website http://www.abchurch.org/ (the fundies in question) , and was immediately struck by what a slick professional website they had. Clicking the designed by link takes us to http://www.genesis07.com/ genesis se7en, a design firm that seems to bear some significant xtian influence. When we take a look at their online portfolio, we find, lo and behold, they seem to be regular web/ ui design contractors for none other than...Microsoft....

Coincidence?
posted by stenseng at 10:32 PM on April 21, 2005


Someone should stand up to those religious extremists. There aren't as many of them as a lot of people like to think. Reasonable people outnumber them, but they're more organized and make a lot more noise. We give them power by backing down at the slightest threat from them.


This is what it's all about. Microsoft is just another pawn in this ridiculous game of zealotry. Shrub and his hard right minions are driving this country into the ground and the most important issue to the thumpers? Homosexuality. These righty freaks need to go. Next election vote early and often.
posted by whittenb2 at 12:03 AM on April 22, 2005


1. Coincidence? Yes, probably. Lots of churches have beautiful, well-designed websites (browse through the CSS Vault for lots of examples) -- they were late to the game technologically, so they're building their sites now, with CSS, rather than 4 years ago, with tables. It's easier and slicker.

2. Too much corporate interference? It's impossible to tell unless we know what MS's support of the bill would have constituted in the first place. But give me a fucking break -- you guys wouldn't be speaking in favor of "corporate citizenship and participation" if this was any other issue. (For the record, I'm bi and hate microsoft with a burning firey passion.)
posted by Tlogmer at 1:20 AM on April 22, 2005


By good governance, I mean regulations that address human as well as business interests-- decent wages, political stability, civil society.

So "good governance" is a relative term decided by you and your friends?
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:19 AM on April 22, 2005


"they were late to the game technologically, so they're building their sites now, with CSS, rather than 4 years ago, with tables. It's easier and slicker."

what's your point? It's not the church that designed their site. What I'm pointing out is that we've got a christian design company doing antiochbible's site, and this same design firm is a regular microsoft contractor (they seem to handle design of the MSN frontpage among other things - I just wonder if there wasn't some pressure from the inside.
posted by stenseng at 7:17 AM on April 22, 2005


By good governance, I mean regulations that address human as well as business interests-- decent wages, political stability, civil society.

Mayor Curly: So "good governance" is a relative term decided by you and your friends?


What are you talking about-- I have no friends.

While I am not an enthusiastic capitalist, I recognize that business has a right to support its interests, provided there is transparency. If a company has no legal means to represent its interests, it will advance them illegally. Corporate participation in governance is inevitable, and it must be regulated, but it is not necessarily an evil or a good thing.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:45 AM on April 22, 2005


microsoftcom_contactus@css.one.microsoft.com
rrt@wagged.com
 (microsoft's PR firm)

While I feel ambivalent about a company like Microsoft's role in a legislative debate like this -- I mean, if they never had a stance on this and similar legislation, I would never think to support a campaign to urge them to take the right stance -- I think a public change in position warrants their receiving a large number of unhappy emails. Dear metafilter, please comply.
posted by nobody at 8:16 AM on April 22, 2005


AlexReynolds wrote: Admitting gays, lesbians and bisexuals are human beings would mean protection under the law. That means increased benefits costs and opening themselves up to liability suits. $$$

I'm sure Microsoft Corporate took a look at the dollars and cents and took the appropriate decision for their shareholders.


But the New York Times article linked above says that "King County, where Microsoft is based, already has an anti-discrimination law broader than what the state bill proposed." So I don't think benefits have to do with it. I'd give more credence to the boycott threat.
posted by Tin Man at 9:50 AM on April 22, 2005


I want to add my 2¢ throry too, even though, like the rest of you, I haven't any inkling of what caused MS to back off of the bill.

I don't think a boycott threat, campus expansion, or money decision drove the apparent change of heart.

I think it more possible that MS has concluded that the bill, as written, is not good enough--sound enough--to stand up to a court challenge.

I'm hoping that the company will announce their reason soon and I'm hoping that it's something along the lines of my speculation.
posted by bz at 10:09 AM on April 22, 2005


bz, I think yours might be a case of wishful thinking:
At the April 4 meeting, Smith told members of GLEAM, the gay and lesbian employees group at Microsoft, that the company had switched its official stance to "neutral" on the bill, and took personal responsibility for the decision. He characterized the shift as part of a broader general review of company policy designed to more precisely formulate criteria for determining when Microsoft should involve itself in "social issues," but also disclosed the pressure that had been brought to bear on him by Hutcherson.
posted by nobody at 11:05 AM on April 22, 2005


I think the bill is probably filled with all those hitchhiker loony add-ons that the US seems so fond of using. An innocuous bill promoting HappyFunPuppyDay ends up having a clause inserted that grants corporations the right to eat your children. Stuff like that.

Could be this bill ended up with something about killing Microsoft, or supporting FOSS, or suchlike. Ain't no way Billy's gonna put his weight behind that sort of thing.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:09 AM on April 22, 2005


"Pride At Work" Launches Online Microsoft Action

"Please take a moment and send an email to Microsoft and their public relations team to tell them that you're watching their actions, and you're not afraid to take your business elsewhere. Simply fill out the box to your right to send an email to Microsoft and their public relations team."

Also - Labor leaders condemn Microsoft
posted by ericb at 12:47 PM on April 22, 2005




email from Ballmer
posted by amberglow at 11:57 AM on April 23, 2005



posted by ericb at 12:17 PM on April 23, 2005


In response to Microsoft's withdrawal of support for legislation that would have outlawed discrimination against gay and lesbian people in Washington, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, which presented Microsoft with its Corporate Vision Award in 2001, is asking the company to return the award.

Wow, I didn't know Microsoft had invented time travel! How else could their actions in 2005 affect their qualifications for an award in 2001?
posted by kindall at 12:39 PM on April 23, 2005


I should buy stock in Apple. If the GLB community got their shit together wrt boycotts, I'd make a mint!
posted by five fresh fish at 2:47 PM on April 23, 2005


Damn it.
posted by FormlessOne at 11:12 PM on April 23, 2005


Guess who's on retainer at Microsoft? Yup--Little Ralphy Reed--for 20,000 a month
posted by amberglow at 5:45 AM on April 26, 2005


NYTimes covers it again, including this: ...One Microsoft employee who spoke on condition of anonymity said he was particularly dismayed by the arrangement with Mr. Reed, citing a company policy that he said states that Microsoft's vendors should adhere, if possible, to the company's internal policies on discrimination.
Reading from what he said was a Microsoft policy, the employee said: "Microsoft expects its vendors to share its commitment to human rights and equal opportunity in the workplace. While we recognize and respect cultural differences, we believe that vendor companies should not engage in discrimination in hiring, compensation, access to training, promotion, termination or retirement based on race, caste, national origin, religion, age, disability, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, union membership or political affiliation."
The policy, he said, requires vendors to comply with anti-discrimination laws in their home cities; Atlanta, where Mr. Reed's firm, Century Strategies, is based, has an anti-discrimination ordinance that protects gay employees, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights advocacy group.
The group's president, Joe Solmonese, who sent Microsoft officials a letter last week urging them to reconsider their position, said, "I can't imagine, at this point in time, given what's going on, that it could be very helpful to Microsoft's public relations to be employing Ralph Reed, one of the most visible anti-gay activists in the country."...

posted by amberglow at 8:29 PM on April 26, 2005


They backed down!!!!!! Ballmer sent an email stating that they will make non-discrimination a key part of their legislative strategy.

great news! now they have to get rid of Ralph Reed.
posted by amberglow at 10:21 AM on May 6, 2005


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