Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Is any other blogspotter having major issues with their site? QP is freezing up everytime I go to it. Until it (hopefully) gets better I think I'll keep postings to a minimum as I don't care for waiting 10 minutes at a time when I want to add a full stop.

Anyways, tomorrow's SX column.


In Seattle, Washington last week, the Microsoft Corporation came under fire from gay rights groups, politicians and its own employees for withdrawing support for a state Bill that would have banned discrimination against gays and lesbians in housing, employment and insurance. This seemed an unusual step for the global corporate giant that has long prided itself on progressive employment practices, being one of the first to provide domestic partner benefits and include sexual orientation in its own anti-discrimination policies.

If nothing else, a software company taking good care of its gay employees makes good strategic sense – certainly, the most efficient computer geeks I know are almost always gay boys. The reason for retreating from support of this particular Bill, however, is a murky, he said/they said situation. Anti-gay pastor Ken Hutcherson, with whom Microsoft officials recently met and who has a number of Microsoft employees in his congregation, is taking credit for forcing the company to back down, claiming: “I told them I was going to give them something to be afraid of Christians about” (can’t you just feel the sweet Jesus love here?). The CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, was quick to email all his employees, assuring them the company withdrew support for this particular legislation as they decided instead to prioritise other legislative reforms “that are more directly related to our business such as computer privacy, education, and competitiveness”. In his surprisingly philosophical email, he posed important questions such as: “When should a public company take a position on a broader social issue, and when should it not? What message does the company taking a position send to its employees who have strongly-held beliefs on the opposite side of the issue?”

I believe the answer is quite simple. Microsoft, like any private business, has an obligation to its shareholders and to maximise its profits. Involvement in legislating for same-sex couple rights may appear too abstract for Microsoft to become involved with. However, if Ballmer is truly sincere in his claim that Microsoft “is a company that values diversity”, by definition it has an obligation not to withdraw support for this Bill. As with any legislative reform that benefits same-sex couples, the ultimate consequence is that two people of the same sex living in a married or de facto-like relationship receive the same rights and entitlements as their heterosexual equivalents. Contrary to common far-right religious propaganda, parity for same-sex couples is not a threat to “The Family”; it does not weaken society and it does not bring about Armageddon. If queer people can respect the rights of religious folk to pray as they wish, sing at Hillsong or install political puppets into parliament, why can’t they respect our right to get on with our lives and organise our relationships as we wish and to which we as taxpayers and law-abiding citizens are fully entitled?

Perhaps this is a case of the “tyranny of the majority” in operation. Now, more than ever, the enemies of queer sexuality are winning their battle against us because realistically they have far greater numbers and are adept at political mobilising and lobbying. Microsoft most likely withdraw support for this Bill not because of one extremist, but because since George W Bush’s 2004 re-election 19 states have banned same-sex marriages, with more to follow. The current political climate in both the US and Australia dictate that any kind of support for same-sex couples is utterly uncool.


At 27/4/05 12:13 pm, Anonymous Zakalwe said...

Its amazing that Microsoft is scared of anybody. Why didnt they just follow their business model? Agressively aquire all rights to the Bible and charge Christians a license fee for its use? If anyone complains upgrade and increase the price. ;-)

The Bible could be described as bloatware already, so maybe Microsoft and Christianity are a perfect match! ;-)

At 27/4/05 6:18 pm, Anonymous Harley said...

Nice research.

While one can easily mount a case for why it is good business practice for large corporations to encourage anti-discrimination policies, the same profit-based arguments can also be used in relation to encouraging religion and/or fundamentalism in employees.

Ultimately MS has chosen to enter an arena on the side presumed by all and sundry to be the most advantageous long-term, but unfortunately now faces a rapidly changing climate, leaving them the option of jumping ship or justify a position that was born of cynicism instead of idealism. To make matters worse they've tried to do both.

We should really be feeling sorry for the poor behemoth.

In the mean time MS continues to provide parter benefits; so I'm having great fun browsing the potential domestic partner candidates \m/

At 28/4/05 9:17 am, Blogger Sam said...

I can't take you anywhere, can I

At 1/5/05 3:05 pm, Blogger Brownie said...

of course QP 'is freezing up' it's an effing penguin.


Post a Comment

<< Home