CommunityPam's House Blend

The brass balls of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center

“Because of Microsoft’s apparent capitulation to the demands of anti-gay extremists and withdrawal of support for a bill that would do nothing more than protect gay and lesbian people from discrimination, we believe it’s no longer worthy of our highest corporate honor,”

–Darrel Cummings, chief of staff for the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, said in a statement released Friday.

(via AMERICABlog): I want the Democratic Party to see what brass ones look like — they need to grow some. This pair goes to the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, which asked Microsoft to give back its civil rights award. The $30+ billion company earned its award four years ago because it offered benefits to same-sex couples since the early 1990s. The goodwill was blasted away by the Redmond-based computer behemoth when it withdrew its support of a bill that would have outlawed discrimination against gays and lesbians in Washington State.

The bill failed by one freaking vote.

NOTE: The initial thought was that, as improbable as it may seem, an unknown outside WA wingnut preacher rolled MS with a threatened boycott. At this stage in the political game, wingnuttery has been known to roll more than a few politicians and companies. Another interesting and plausible theory, promoted by Chris Patil of Marching Orders, is that the company’s a 2.2 million square foot expansion plans required support by senators, and MS bought off their support by going “neutral” on the rights bill:

It never seemed right that Microsoft, which has been decorated by LGBT organizations for its support of gay rights in the workplace and in society at large (link mine: Waveflux), would have reversed itself because of hassling by one ornery preacher – if that were how it worked, and individuals had that much power over the corporate giant, Bill would have fixed the security holes in Windows a long time ago.

What if the conservative preacher was a red herring, and instead, Microsoft bargained away its support for the gay rights bill in exchange for the future support of key Senators for the expansion project?

The bargaining could have occurred either actively on Microsoft’s part (e.g., Microsoft approaches socially conservative opponents of the expansion and offers them a trade) or less voluntarily (i.e., social conservatives approach Microsoft and make them an offer they can’t refuse, threatening opposition of the expansion project unless Microsoft pulls support for gay rights legislation).

This makes sense, but MS still has it’s softies in a vise because Brad Smith, Microsoft’s top attorney, admitted to Rep. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, the bill’s openly gay sponsor, that the company was feeling pressure from Rev. Hutcherson and was concerned about how Christian employees might react if it supported the bill.

In either case, the damage is done. I hope the Microsofties sleep well at night, knowing they just tossed gay rights overboard.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding