Microsoft About Face: Will Support Gay Rights Bill

Microsoft has redeemed itself. In an about-face today, it has announced it will support Washington State's gay rights bill.

In a turnaround Friday, Microsoft Corp. chief executive Steve Ballmer said the company will support gay rights legislation. Ballmer made the announcement in an e-mail to employees two weeks after gay rights activists accused the company of withdrawing its support for an anti-discrimination bill in its home state after an evangelical pastor threatened to launch a national boycott.

"After looking at the question from all sides, I've concluded that diversity in the workplace is such an important issue for our business that it should be included in our legislative agenda," Ballmer wrote.

The bill that failed in the state Legislature would have banned discrimination against gays in housing, employment and insurance. Microsoft had supported the measure in the past, but more recently took a neutral stance.

A major share of the credit is due John Aravosis of AmericaBlog who waged massive two week action campaign against Microsoft.

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  • It also looks like there was a great deal of pressure from inside the company as well, damn fine job there...

    Re: Microsoft About Face: Will Support Gay Rights (none / 0) (#2)
    by MikeDitto on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:58:49 PM EST
    Still doesn't mean you should go out and buy their products. Six all-nighters on my dad's Small Business Server 2003, dealing with hundreds of conflicting security updates and incompatible service packs, trying to decide whether it was better to leave this vulnerability or that vulnerability open rather than breaking this functionality or that functionality, has taught me that Windows is totally unmanageable as a server platform for a small business, and just a meal ticket for network admins in a large business. And it still doesn't do what I want it to do. But at least it's (mostly) plugged against currently known vulnerabilities. That being said, kudos to Microsoft for the about-face on the bill, even if it is a day late and a dollar short. I seriously hope they rid themselves of Ralph Reed and their ridiculous legal counsel.

    Does this action reflect the attitudes of Microsoft's management, or is it a move designed to appease Microsoft's consumer base by appealing to their values? (Something else?) Ultimately it doesn't matter. I must stand by the principle that it is not healthy for America to have Corporations attempting to dictate the societal norms of our culture -- regardless of which norms they support. Concurrently, we do not want Corporations in a position to perpetuate or exacerbate societal conflict for the sake of profits (Anarchist, Totalitarian, Communist, Fascist or anywhere in between). Microsoft owe's it's shareholders a healthy return and management shouldn't alienate/make-uncomfortable their employees, shareholders, or co-management based on political ideology. Government should set and enforce those standards for Corporations to follow. Thus, Microsoft, et.al. should (by law) have a responsibility to promote equality through anti/non-discrimination efforts in their workplaces and to hold any company they choose to merge-with, acquire, or contract with to those same standards. The line lies somewhere between (1) "within the walls of their business operations and/or in their business dealings" and (2) "society-at-large". This kind of behavior is another reason why Corporations should not be recognized with the rights of a human being in the eyes of the law. The rights of individuals should trump the rights of Corporations, not equal them. That is about as concise as I can be on this point. There are literally hundreds of circumstances where a Corporation can exert undue influence upon government in ways that people cannot (even very, very wealthy people). To make clear to other Progressives, I agree with the legislation, just not Microsoft's open support of it.