Excerpts from a February 2004 letter from Microsoft’s manager of government affairs in the state, DeLee Shoemaker, to Rep. Ed Murray (my emphasis):
"Our employees know that they will be treated fairly, without being subject to prejudice or discrimination. An essential element of those policies includes the company’s anti-discrimination policy that expressly states that it will not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
"Unfortunately, not all Americans experience this basic protection in their employment. It remains legal in 38 states to fire someone because of their sexual orientation. This is not only bad for business, it is bad for America. House Bill 1809 would simply and fairly extend to Washingtonians the fundamental right to be judged on one’s own merits. And it does so without any undue burden on our business environment.
"Microsoft strongly supports passage of HB 1809 and the additional protections it provides in our state’s law against discrimination. The principles it fosters are consistent with our corporate principles in treating all employees with fairness and respect."
All good stuff, except when the bill came up again this year, Microsoft switched its stance to one of neutrality, claiming it wanted to focus on issues more directly related to its business. Somehow the statement in the letter from 2004 that discrimination is "bad for business" got lost in the rush to focus.
I find it interesting that, despite Microsoft switching its stance, there were other big-name companies in the Washington area who saw no difficulty in continuing to support the bill. Companies such as Boeing, HP, Nike, Coors and Levi Strauss.
Microsoft folding up its tent in this fashion has left a very nasty taste in my mouth. My MSDN subscription comes up for renewal next month. It’s not going to be renewed. A small gesture, but mine own.