Gay rights and the blue screen of death

How disappointing that the long fought for gay rights bill lost by one vote in Washington state. And how much this loss can be placed on Microsoft’s sudden decision to withdraw support is hard to say, other than it couldn’t have helped.

Several good writings on the issue including: original report at The StrangerNew FramesBlueOregonCNet and others.

If you want to see how much chatter it’s getting in weblogging, just search Technorati on Microsoft + gay — and be sure to wear your asbestos gloves.

Dare Obasanjo who works at Microsoft wrote on this. Robert Scoble posted a couple of posts and pointed out a post by his his boss’ boss, Vic Gundotra, who wrote:

What about the people in the company who DON”T believe this is a human rights issue? What about those people who believe homosexuality is a moral/social issue? Should Ballmer just say these people are wrong? That “Microsoft the corporation” has decided to take a stance on this social issue?

I realize that many people, including myself see this as a human rights issue. But you do have to stop and consider the people with the opposing view.

Should a CEO pick sides on an issue that is so divisive? Does being “inclusive” and “diverse” suddenly stop when it involves views that are different than the ones we hold?

What the upper management at Microsoft has forgotten is that supporting equal rights for gays does not deny equal rights to others. Giving gays the same rights as every other group in this country does not deny these rights to those who are not gay. Giving gays the right to employment does not mean that straights have somehow lost the equal right to employment. The same can be said to the right to buy a home, get insurance, and any other basic human need.

Even those who are anti-gay can continue being anti-gay…up until it comes to trying to force your company into firing a person for no other reason than they are gay. But don’t worry, being gay isn’t a virus–you won’t ‘catch’ it if your cube is next to a gay person’s. However, I’ve heard that tolerance is contagious if you’re exposed to it for great lengths of time.

A basic premise in our country is if we error, we error on the side of granting more rather than less liberty. Microsoft could have sent a message to the community and its employees who supported the bill that it recognizes there are citizens in this country who do not have full rights, and this bill would help grant some of the most basic: a right to a home and a job. Microsoft would then have sent a message to those who did not support this bill that though it understands their disagreement, supporting the bill does not lessen their existing rights, as there is no guaranteed right to bias and prejudice in the United States.

Instead, what Microsoft has done is show that a small man in a small church can push around a major corporation in today’s intolerant climate, and begin what can be a disasterous reversal of rights gained so slowly over decades in corporate America.

Coors understood what was at stake, as did Boeing, and Nike and a host of other companies that came out in support of this bill. What is it that BlueOregon wrote? From now on drink Coors, wear Nikis, and fly Boeing–but don’t buy Microsoft.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email