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Leaked Microsoft CEO's email confirms they're abandoning gays. Only supported gays rights in the past because hadn't given the issue enough thought.

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(Graphic courtesy of Pam's House Blend)

This comes from, a blog run by the former editor of Genre, Andy Towle:
From: Steve Ballmer
Sent: Friday, April 22, 2005 6:40 PM
To: All Employees of MS in Puget Sound; All Employees of MS in MSUS
Subject: Microsoft and the Anti-Discrimination bill
"There have been several news stories that imply that Microsoft changed its position on an anti-discrimination bill, HB 1515, because of pressure from a conservative religious group. I want to make it clear that that is not the case."
Here is Ballmer's first mistake. Framing the issue as though it's about whether the religious right leader made Microsoft go anti-gay or whether Microsoft decided on its own to go anti-gay. Honestly, I couldn't care less WHY Microsoft decided to stop supporting gays, the fact is they DID.
"When our government affairs team put together its list of its legislative priorities in Olympia before the Legislative Session began in January, we decided to focus on a limited number of issues that are more directly related to our business such as computer privacy, education, and competitiveness. The anti-discrimination bill was not on this list and as a result Microsoft was not actively supporting the bill in the Legislature this year, although last year we did provide a letter of support for similar legislation...."
Huh? First of all, nice verbatim quoting of your spokesperson's statements - couldn't you at least tell us what YOU really think? Second, since when is simply saying you support a bill "actively supporting" it? I worked on Capitol Hill for 5 years and that statement from Ballmer is utter bullshit. Simply saying you support a bill for the umpteenth year in a row expends NO political capital.
"On this particular matter, both Bill and I actually both personally support this legislation that would outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. But that is my personal view, and I also know that many employees and shareholders would not agree with me."
Yeah, and this wasn't true the previous 15 years that you've been publicly supportive as a company of gay rights laws? It didn't seem to matter then. But it does now. You're not telling us something.
"We are thinking hard about what is the right balance to strike - when should a public company take a position on a broader social issue, and when should it not? What message does the company taking a position send to its employees who have strongly-held beliefs on the opposite side of the issue?...."
Again, this is the FIRST time you've thought about what balance to strike on civil rights legislation you've been supporting for year? If that's the case, then you should step down as CEO. How could you, as a company, endorse national gay rights legislation for years and years, and statewide gay rights legislation for the same period of time, and NOT make a determination as to whether you've struck the "right balance" between whether or not you should take the position in question? What, you just flippantly and stupidly supported gay rights in the past, but now that you've actually THOUGHT about it you realize it was a dumb move?

Again, if you're trying to tell us that after all these years you only JUST thought about this issue now, after years of endorsing these bills, then you should step down because you clearly are not serving your company or your shareholders, and frankly, you're admitting you weren't serving your shareholders for years when you endorsed this legislation which we now know falls on the wrong side of this "balance."
"I am also adamant that I want Microsoft to be a place where every employee feels respected, and where every employee feels like they belong. I don't want the company to be in the position of appearing to dismiss the deeply-held beliefs of any employee, by picking sides on social policy issues."
Okay, now you're in trouble. Picking sides? Do you pick sides between blacks and the Klan, Mr. Ballmer? Between Jews and David Duke? Since when did Microsoft take the position that people who support gay rights and anti-gay bigots are equal in the eyes of Microsoft?

If that's the case, then why do you have non-discrimination policies at all in your company? You do realize that those same "Christian" employees, as your general counsel calls them, don't support corporate non-discrimination policies that include gays either. They boycotted Procter & Gamble forever because of their positive internal policies on gays. So what's the difference here, I'm terribly confused. You can pick sides internally and shun your radical rights employees but not externally? It's okay to force your employees to work side by side with homos getting "special rights" but it's wrong to support those same rights statewide?

I didn't realize that Microsoft's vision of civil rights and equality had a geographic limitation to it.
"It's appropriate to invoke the company's name on issues of public policy that directly affect our business and our shareholders, but it's much less clear when it's appropriate to invoke the company's name on broader issues that go far beyond the software industry - and on which our employees and shareholders hold widely divergent opinions. We are a public corporation with a duty first and foremost to a broad group of shareholders. On some issues, it is more appropriate for employees or shareholders to get involved as individual citizens. As CEO, I feel a real sense of responsibility around this question, and I believe there are important distinctions between my personal views on policy issues and when it's appropriate to involve the company."
Screw you. You've been invoking the company's name on broader issues for fifteen years now, and today, after a religious right preacher threatens you, you're now caving and retrenching and no longer supporting gay civil rights in the public arena. If this is some new revelation you just had, you only JUST realized you were breaching your duty to your shareholders, then you need to resign because you've been breaching that duty for 15 years now.

This is despicable. The CEO of Microsoft just said that the company has in fact decided to pull back from its support of gay rights because it is concerned about the religious right shareholders and religious right public. You heard it here, in Ballmer's own words.

You guys are such toast.

Read the rest of the post here.

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