Friday, May 06, 2005

[geek][politics] MSFT blinks

It's official - I first read about it on Scoble's blog: Steve Ballmer sent out an email (also posted on Microsoft's press page) pledging that MSFT will support any future version of HB 1515; he also states the company's future commitment to non-discrimination legislation at the Federal level. From Ballmer's email (italics are my emphasis):
[...] Microsoft will continue to join other leading companies in supporting federal legislation that would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation - adding sexual orientation to the existing law that already covers race, sex, national origin, religion, age and disability. Given the importance of diversity to our business, it is appropriate for the company to endorse legislation that prohibits employment discrimination on all of these grounds. Obviously, the Washington State legislative session has concluded for this year, but if legislation similar to HB 1515 is introduced in future sessions, we will support it.
On dKos, I characterized it as Microsoft 'caving' - after some consideration, I don't think I'd call it that. I think they got caught off guard, and needed to do damage control - they are based in Seattle, after all, and they played a major role in this city becoming as free-thinking and independent as it is. I do think that we've won a minor victory, though, and right now things look so bleak that I'll cheerfully take the small ones. Remember guys: we're gonna be watching what happens next session in Olympia. And while you're at it, stop hanging out with Taliban-wannabes like Ralph Reed. You want pro-business GOP lobbyists? Fine. But if your stated future plans consist of staying focused on issues that affect the tech industry, don't associate with far-Right assholes whose own agendas extend far beyond the desktop and server room and into the bedroom, classroom, doctor's office, and research labs. Because they don't share your belief that (as Ballmer stated in his email) "...diversity in the workplace is such an important issue for our business that it should be included in [Microsoft's] legislative agenda".

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