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Don't Mess With The Fundamentalist Left

Microsoft is widely acknowledge as one of the most progressive companies in the United States on gay rights. Microsoft has extends employee benefits to same-sex couples, and even includes gender identification in its internal anti-discrimination policies. All that goodwill though isn't worth two bits when the fundie left decides you've strayed off the reservation.

Here's the story in a nutshell; two Microsoft employees testified in favor of House Bill 1515, and during their testimony they indicated that the company supported the bill. Microsoft had previously determined (January 2005) that their state legislative agenda for the year would focus on issues affecting them like piracy and not unrelated social legislation. A local minister, Ken Hutcherson of Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, noted the testimony and subsequently met with Microsoft senior vice president and general counsel Bradford L. Smith. Hutcherson threatened to organize a national boycott of the company's products if it did not change its stance on the legislation and fire the two employees. Microsoft declined to act on Hutcherson's concerns, but did issue a clarification of the testimony about Microsoft corporate support of the legislation, as they had previously decided to take no stance on the bill.

Reaction an April 21st story in The Stranger set off the firestorm on the internet over Microsoft's lack of support for the bill, even though the bill itself had been defeated in the Senate the day the article was published. The real irony is that all the hand-washing over Microsoft's change to a "no stance" on this years version of the bill (they had issued letters of support for the bill in previous years) is that Democrats control the House, Senate and Governor's Office in Washington.

Any guesses as to who might be trying to shift the blame to Microsoft for the loss?

Gay-rights bill falls 1 vote short of becoming state law - [Seattle Times]
L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center Condemns Microsoft's Withdrawal of Support for Civil Rights Bill, Asks Company to Return Award - [US Newswire]
Text of Ballmer memo - [Seattle Times]
Steve Ballmer's memo posted, my reply [Scobleizer]

If you guessed the sponsor and lead cheerleader for the bill, Rep. Ed Murray (D), you're correct!!!


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Comments (11)

I don't live in Washington ... (Below threshold)

I don't live in Washington and I'm not intimately familiar with this bill. I've skimmed it. But in general, I think bills like this do more harm than good. And in the abstract, they're a little too close to thoughtcrime for my taste. Like hate-crime legislation, they sound good to everybody, but they're impossible to enact fairly.

The term "fundamentalist le... (Below threshold)
ryan:

The term "fundamentalist left" is really fitting.

You left out the part about... (Below threshold)
worldcitizen:

You left out the part about Microsoft supporting this exact bill in every previous legislative session for years. And supporting the proposed change to federal legislation to add sexual orientation to current anti-discrimination law. Microsoft has always testified in favor, because of their own experience implementing an anti-discrimination policy internally and having that be successful for them.

That's why people are angry and feel betrayed.

Jeff, there's no "thoughtcrime" involved. It's about whether or not it should be legal to fire someone or evict them from their apartment SOLELY because they are gay.

I'm disappointed that you guys see gays and lesbians as the ones who are creating problems when these issues are discussed. Why don't you turn your attention to the religious zealots who specifically believe that everyone should fire and evict gay people--and generally run them out of society?

Jeff, there's no "though... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Jeff, there's no "thoughtcrime" involved. It's about whether or not it should be legal to fire someone or evict them from their apartment SOLELY because they are gay.


Which equals, impossible to prove with any certainty. Which equals, huge amount of legal intensity and resources both accusing and defending mostly heresay and imagined insults and issues.

Unless a landlord writes a letter or otherwise records some sort of dedication to "refusing to rent property to anyone with (name your sexual behavior here)," there is nearly an impossibility in proving beyond the level of gossip and innuendo that someone has been "evict(ed)...SOLELY because they are gay..."

Which they can't be, anyway, already. No property owner can seek an Order of Eviction to or about anyone based upon that as "reason." It's already a legal impossibility so it already is not taking place.

Thus, no betrayal.

But, worldcitizen, you are making a good case for the foolishness of the denounced legislation.

Same goes for employment. ... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Same goes for employment.

Already.

Increased lawsuits about ac... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Increased lawsuits about accused "discrimination" based upon (name your insult here) and you get...the useful tool of the Fundamentalist Left and success in inflicting increased harms upon the society they beg "acceptance" from.

It just increases hostility in the long run and people are far less likely to want to interact at all about anything that has to do with certain sexual behaviors. Where housing and employment are concerned, and federal/local assistance for those (both), it becomes non productive to tie up resources trying to prove acceptance and force social normalacy upon people, after a certain point of effort to and about terrible infringements otherwise.

In my opinion...

Has there been a sudden ras... (Below threshold)

Has there been a sudden rash of evictions and firings of gay people in Washington? I don't get it. There is a list of reasons why you can fire someone; exessive tardiness, theft, etc. Now there must be reasons why you "can't" fire them? Isn't that redundant? There is a list of reasons why you can evict someone; not paying rent, trashing the place, etc. So we must also have reasons why you "can't" evict them? More redundancy. If one list is comprehensive why must there be an alternate list?

Am I missing something?

I agree with the posts abou... (Below threshold)
2liberal4u:

I agree with the posts about not needing special protection for gays.

Now we simply need to remove "religion" as a protected class, since there are already laws on the books that you can only be evicted for "...not paying rent, etc..."

I am all for being able to fire someone for the wrong religion. What is the difference, THEY chose to be religious, they weren't BORN christians...

So how is it right for the ... (Below threshold)
godsbug:

So how is it right for the left to force gays down the right's throat? If I work at a church that believes homosexuality is wrong, and yet the government is forcing my church to hire or retain a homosexual employee, is that right? No! Absolutely not! The left needs to realize that trying to force the religious right to accept their ideas and opinions is not acceptable. They cry out every time they feel that we are forcing something down their throat. Well guess what? It goes both ways. By all means, make a stink. That's what's great about America. But every once in a while, try to understand our position too. We aren't forcing homosexuals out of the country, I think most of us have a live and let live attitude. We don't agree with homosexuality, we generally don't make close friends with people who are, but I know several people who work with them and for them and have no problem with it. I've worked with two and had no problem with it. We agreed to disagree on that subject and went about our work. I don't think there was any animosity on either of our parts.
Enough of my rambling...

let's get something straigh... (Below threshold)
paul:

let's get something straight: people have been fired from their jobs in states without these laws solely for being gay. they've gone to court and been told that they are not protected under the laws of their state. how vague is that, "-S-"? for dozens of documented harassment cases, see: http://www.hrc.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Work_Life/Get_Involved4/Documenting_Discrimination1/Documenting_Discrimination_Intro.htm#stories

i'm sure you'd all feel differently if you were discriminated against for your religion or color - but you already have similar laws on the books that give you that exact protection. can't give it to the gays though - "special rights". how hypocritical!

finally, a relevant stat on what gays experience in the workplace:

>>For the second year in a row, four in 10 (41 percent) GLBT adults say they have faced some form of discrimination on the job, including being fired, harassed, pressured to quit or denied a promotion because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Paul, too many people use t... (Below threshold)

Paul, too many people use the discrimination issue as a defense when often they are simply unable to do the job, are frequently tardy or call in sick, break company policies and any number of infractions that will get anyone fired regardless of what color they are or what religion they are or what sex they are. If they are being harassed by someone for their sexual orientation it doesn't matter. Those doing the harrassing should be fired for harrassing another person. Period. Whether or not they are gay, black, female or any other number of things should not even be an issue. See where I'm going with this? I think that's what -S- is getting at too.




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