Another little thing in Washington State

A couple of weeks ago Microsoft failed to support an anti-discrimination measure in Washington State and caused the bill (which would protect gay and lesbian people from discrimination in work, housing, etc) to fail passage in the state legislature. But soon after Microsoft changed its decision because of all the pressure from employees and gay rights groups.
In Friday’s message, Ballmer seemed to suggest that input from employees had helped persuade Microsoft officials to renew their backing of the measure. More than 1,500 employees had signed an internal petition demanding the company support the bill, and scores had written in protest to Ballmer and Gates.
A Microsoft executive, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that after Microsoft’s turnaround on the bill was widely publicized and prompted an internal company uproar, a group of senior officials had met and decided to change the company’s position because of the pressure from employees.

Sweet! Activism at Microsoft!

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  • Mike

    They also permanently fired their conservative consultant, Ralph Reed (woo).

  • CaptDMO

    Explain to me again why it’s important to have a corporate entity support/ignore/oppose any kind of special exemption legislation.

  • B.D.

    First of all, there’s no special exemption. The law merely wouldn’t allow bigoted people to fire or harass or deny housing to other people based on the second party’s sexual orientation. That’s not an exemption. That’s creating an equal playing field.
    Secondly, this probably wouldn’t have been a big deal if Microsoft hadn’t already supported the measure in year’s past, received awards for that support, and then withdrew the support (and a conservative minister took credit for forcing the withdrawal of support). If Microsoft had always taken a neutral stance on the bill or never addressed it in any way, then this wouldn’t have been an issue.
    I suspect as well, if the minister had not tried to claim some measure of power over Microsoft, then this might have been a much more minor dust up than it was.

  • marawitz

    FYI, Microsoft was *not* responsible for killing the anti-discrimination bill. Their withdrawal of support was announced shortly before the state Senate voted on the bill, but there wasn’t enough time for it to have the huge influence some have claimed it had. State representative Ed Murray, the sponsor of the bill, spoke about this at a GLBT community forum. He said Microsoft’s influence on the legislature was exaggerated in the media reports on the subject. Just thought you should know that! Regardless of how much their support actually influenced votes, it’s great that they recognized their mistake and had the courage to change their position.