Microsoft Poised to Rethink Stand on Gay Rights Bill

Mon. April 25, 2005 12:00 AM by

Seattle, WA - Following a major uproar among gay rights activists after it became known that, after years of supporting LGBT rights, Microsoft would take a neutral stand on Washington’s attempted ban on gay marriage, the company is now suggesting they might reevaluate their decision.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said he was shocked by the sharp reaction of the community, causing him to open the door for the possibility of supporting the community again in the future.

"Next time this one comes around, we'll see," he said. "We certainly have a lot of employees who sent us mail. Next time it comes around that'll be a major factor for us to take into consideration." The legislation was rejected by one vote in the state Senate last Thursday, prompting outrage toward Microsoft among advocates for the legislation. The reaction was fueled in part by a story in The Stranger alternative newspaper that suggested Microsoft had caved to pressure from a fundamentalist Christian pastor. Other papers followed up on the story, including The Seattle Times and The New York Times, which ran its story Friday on its front page.

Though Microsoft spokespeople deny influence from the church had anything to do with the decision, Gates said its tough to ignore the outcry of anger from the gay community.

"Well, we didn't expect that kind of visibility for it," Gates said. "After all, Microsoft's position on a political bill — has that ever caused something to pass or not pass? Is it good, is it bad? I don't know. Is my being behind it good? Look at the referendums I've been behind. I've lost gun control — I'm looking really good on that one," he quipped.

Gates also noted that Microsoft was one of the first companies of its size to offer domestic partnership benefits and anti-discrimination policies. The stand of the company has been that it simply decided to focus its support on other issues this year. Advocacy groups continue to feel betrayed, including the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center. The group is demanding Microsoft return an award it gave the company in 2001.

Written By Ross von Metzke

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