What a bunch of pigs.
Here I am getting all sorts of tips that this was all a big misunderstanding and that Microsoft would issue some wonderful statement shortly, and then I look at tomorrow's New York Times, and what do I read? One big fat lie after another.
Per the NYT:
Microsoft officials said that the meetings with the [anti-gay religious right] minister did not persuade them to back away from supporting the bill, but that they had already decided to take a "neutral" position on it. They said they examined their legislative priorities and decided that because they already offer extensive benefits to gay employees and that King County, where Microsoft is based, already prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, with a law as stringent as what the state bill proposed, they were focusing on other legislative matters.Excuse me? Well if that's your rationale, that you don't need to support gay rights legislation when your employees are already covered by your own company policy, then why did you support the state legislation LAST YEAR when your employees were ALREADY covered by your company policy back then? Or were you wrong all these years to support gay civil rights legislation?
Not to mention, does Microsoft hire all of its new employees from the surrounding county? Because if you don't, then you might actually be concerned about there being a diverse and talented pool of smart and qualified techies out there, free from discrimination, working in OTHER Washington state and US counties, for you to choose from. That's why the STATE law matters for Microsoft, and I suspect that's why you supported it earlier this year and in previous year - it makes good business sense, morons. Microsoft and all businesses benefit from a qualified labor pool, that's why non-discrimination laws matter to all businesses - they help ensure that the most qualified employees advance and learn more and become more efficient and proficient at their jobs. And that's why historically they've supported things like ENDA at the federal level and the local civil rights legislation in Washington state. It guarantees a larger and more qualified pool of potential employees for the future.
And why do you NOW support the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that would protect gays nationwide from on-the-job discrimination, since your employees are already protected from anti-gay discrimination by your own company policy? Are you planning to pull your support from ENDA now too? Or are you going to stay on ENDA and prove that you just lied to the New York Times about not supporting civil rights bills when your employees are already covered?
And you got an award from the LA Gay & Lesbian Center a few years back for, among other things, fighting anti-gay ballot initiatives. Well, call me crazy, but those initiatives wouldn't have revoked any job protections YOUR employees get since your own company policy already covers them. So are you going to pull your opposition to the anti-gay ballot initiatives in the future too? And if so, when we do get our award back?
And by the way, what does the fact that your county has a gay rights law have to do with anything? Your employees are covered by your company policy regardless of the county law, so why does that factor into your opinion on the state law? Your response is simply bizarre.
"Our government affairs team made a decision before this legislative session that we would focus our energy on a limited number of issues that are directly related to our business," said Mark Murray, a company spokesman. "That decision was not influenced by external factors. It was driven by our desire to focus on a smaller number of issues in this short legislative session. We obviously have not done a very good job of communicating about this issue."Yes, well we're disappointed that you just confirmed what we've been saying for the past 24 hours. You used to support the gay rights legislation and now you don't. Spin that, Sherlock. And you're admitting that this is part of a larger change in strategy by which Microsoft will focus more closely on what matters. And clearly, we are not what matters any longer.
Mr. Murray added that company officials had met twice with Dr. Hutcherson but that it was "long after our decision to focus on a tighter legislative agenda."
"We're disappointed that people are misinterpreting those meetings," he said.
Then State Representative Ed Murray, an openly gay Democrat and sponsor of the bill, catches Microsoft in a bold-faced lie:
But Representative Murray said that in a conversation last month with Bradford L. Smith, Microsoft's senior vice president and general counsel, Mr. Smith had made it clear to him that the company was under pressure from the church and the pastor and that he was also concerned about the reaction to company support of the bill among its Christian employees, the lawmaker said.Excuse me? The reaction from the "Christian" employees? What kind of bigoted comment is that? Newsflash, Microsoft: The religious right doesn't represent all Christians, thank you very much. Speaking as a Christian myself, lots of your "Christian" employees are surely pro-gay and support the bill, and even some of those "Christians" are actually gay themselves. It is unbelievable this man has these Neanderthal views on religion and sexual orientation and he's the freakin' general counsel of Microsoft?
Mr. Smith [the general counsel] would not comment for this article.Oh really? Then I assume Microsoft is equally sensitive to its evangelical employees who believe that their Jewish employees killed Christ. Then there are those employees who hate blacks, of all the thousands of employees you must have a few - does Microsoft make policy decisions based on the opinions of employees who feel differently about "Negroes"? Or does Microsoft now have a double standard on prejudice? Jews and blacks good - gays, not so much, or at least open to debate.
Mr. Murray [the good gay state rep.] said that in a recent conversation with Mr. Smith, Mr. Smith said that the minister had demanded the company fire Microsoft employees who testified this year on behalf of the bill, but that Mr. Smith had refused. Mr. Smith also said, according to Mr. Murray, that the minister had threatened to boycott the company if it did not withdraw its support for the bill and that the company was going to take a "neutral" position on the bill this year.
According to Mr. Murray, Mr. Smith said "that while he did not do the many things that the minister had requested, including firing employees who had testified for the bill, he believed that Microsoft could not just respond to one group of employees, when there were other groups of employees who felt much different."
And, last time I checked, the evangelical employees have federal civil rights protections based on religion, so in fact, the two groups are not equal - unless Microsoft now plans on coming down as "neutral" on the freedom of religion? That should be fun.
Here's more from the state rep:
"My refrain back to him was that this is a historic moment, that I only had a few weeks and I wanted Microsoft to do the right thing, to support an issue of justice, an issue of justice of concern to the huge number of his employees who happen to be lesbian and gay," Mr. Murray said. "Their concern, he said, was that obviously they were hearing from fairly conservative employees who were connected to this minister. They needed to sort out how they were going to deal with those problems."Yep, Microsoft lied. And continues to lie to spin and spin and spin this story rather than come clean and admit it. They screwed us, and it wasn't a mistake. It was a corporate decision reached at the highest levels and they stand by it. They threw us to the radical right dogs and now are risking every other company in America withdrawing its support for our civil rights legislation as well.
Mr. Murray said the company's contention that the decision not to support the bill had nothing to do with the Christian church was "an absolute lie."
A Microsoft employee who said he attended a meeting this month with Mr. Smith and about 30 employees, most of them gay, said that Mr. Smith discussed his meetings with Dr. Hutcherson and left the impression that the company was changing its policy on the bill as a result of those meetings.
"Brad was very clear that the decision to be neutral on the bill was made subsequent to his meeting with Ken Hutcherson," said the employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared retribution from the company. "My gut feeling is that the pastor and his threat of a boycott and the general sensitivity around this issue was a factor in this decision."
He added, "At the meeting, what Brad told us was that Microsoft made its decision on the bill between the first and second meetings he had with Hutcherson."
Thanks for nothing, Microsoft.
Gang, this is a big deal. There is no other way to cut it than Microsoft has decided to back off of its previously staunch defense of gay rights. NO other way to cut it.
Sure, they've been great on gay stuff in the past, and they're now signaling that those days are over. They're more concerned now with focusing on their business. Well what we're they doing before? Supporting gays just for the hell of it?
And the bigger impact, which remains to be seen, is whether Microsoft now chucks us overboard at the national level and if other companies start to follow suit, following the corporate leader, as it were.
Microsoft should be ashamed of itself. And we should consider this a warning. It is no longer safe in America to be gay - or liberal for that matter. We've taken our rights for granted. And now they're being taken away, and our friends are being taken away by an ever-growing climate of hostility fed by an extremist administration and their Sieg Heil friends in America's Taliban.
It's time we started fighting back, and fighting back hard. It's time we took the gloves off and stopped playing nice. You're either with us or you're against us, as our enemies like to say.
Microsoft has chosen its side.