'The Human Rights Campaign, along with your many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees, would like to express our profound disappointment,' said HRC President Joe Solmonese.
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign sent the following letter to Microsoft today following news reports regarding Microsoft's withdrawal of support for Washington's non-discrimination bill:
Steven A. Ballmer
CEO, Microsoft Corporation
1 Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052-6399
CC: Bradford L. Smith
Dear Mr. Ballmer:
The Human Rights Campaign, along with your many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees, would like to express our profound disappointment at Microsoft Corp.'s withdrawal of support for Washington State House Bill 1515 that would have banned discrimination against GLBT Washingtonians in housing, employment and insurance.
The defeat of this bill struck a blow to fairness for all Washingtonians. No Washingtonian or American should ever be fired for who they are. Corporations in Washington, especially Microsoft, must recognize the enormous impact this bill could have had at delivering equal protection to GLBT people.
In media reports, your company spokesperson said that workplace fairness is not directly "related to our business" and that the short legislative schedule precluded the company from supporting the bill. That position belies your own policies and those of countless other companies who believe firmly that workplace protections for all are essential to maintaining a competitive business environment. Successful businesses embrace diversity not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it the right thing to do for their business.
We also find it troubling that public reports allege that Microsoft made this decision not based on a business rationale, but under pressure from conservative religious-political groups. The reported rationale that Microsoft officials were afraid of offending "Christians" is itself deeply offensive to the many Christians who believe in non-discrimination and were proud of Microsoft's previous position. Further, giving in to threats from a small group fighting to impose their own view of religion on the company and the state will only encourage more such threats. We urge you to work to change this perception.
While Microsoft's internal policies regarding GLBT diversity have been trend setting, its reversal sends a signal, intended or not, that it is no longer supportive of its GLBT employees, customers and shareholders. It implies a lack of support for its own employees as they seek housing and insurance coverage and creates the impression that Microsoft does not support equal treatment at businesses elsewhere in Washington. In fact, the strong stance of Microsoft on behalf of the GLBT community and our partnership with the organization in the past makes this feel like even more of a betrayal.
In addition, Microsoft's position is the exception to many other leading companies that support the bill and the timing of the withdrawal of your support has created the perception that Microsoft was partly responsible for the bill's demise.
Microsoft should reinstate its support for this bill when it returns to the Legislature. It's simply the right thing to do for Microsoft's employees and its business. Further, we call on Microsoft to unambiguously state its support for non-discrimination legislation at the state and federal levels. This lack of clarity may have already had a devastating effect and it's past time to clear the air.
We appreciate our 10-year relationship with Microsoft. We are hopeful the issues raised in this letter can be resolved and we look forward to working with you to that end.
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