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Microsoft Switches Gay-Rights Position Again

Chris Crum
Staff Writer
Published: 2005-05-07

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After being criticized by employees and gay-rights activists, Microsoft changed its position on a Washington state gay-rights bill.

Microsoft announced that it now supports the bill, which was declined by one vote in April. The bill will come up again for voting next year.

Sarah Kershaw of the New York Times explains:

Long known for its strong internal policies protecting gay employees from discrimination and offering them benefits, Microsoft sparked an uproar last month when officials decided to take a "neutral" stance on the anti- discrimination bill this year, after supporting it for the two previous years.

Critics, including employees who said they had been told until recently that Microsoft would support the bill, insisted the decision had been made under pressure from a local evangelical Christian preacher who threatened to organize a boycott of the company if it supported the legislation this year, an accusation the company has denied.


"After looking at the question from all sides, I've concluded that diversity in the workplace is such an important issue for our business that it should be included in our legislative agenda," said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. "I respect that there will be different viewpoints. But as CEO, I am doing what I believe is right for our company as a whole."

Microsoft's initial decision to go neutral on the matter was based on a desire to focus on business-specific issues and not political ones.




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