Microsoft CEO Ballmer emails explanation of company’s reversal on gay rights bill

“The chief executive of Microsoft, Steven A. Ballmer, sent what company officials described as an unusual e-mail message on Friday evening to roughly 35,000 employees in the United States, defending Microsoft’s widely criticized decision not to support an antidiscrimination bill for gay people in Washington State this year,” Sarah Kershaw reports for The New York Times.

“The e-mail message came as company officials, inundated by internal messages from angry employees, withering attacks on the Web and biting criticism from gay rights groups, sought to quell rancor following the disclosure this week that the company, which had supported the bill in past years, did not do so this year. Critics argue that the decision resulted from pressure from a prominent local evangelical Christian church,” Kershaw reports.

“In his message, posted on several Web logs on Saturday and confirmed by company officials, Mr. Ballmer wrote that he had done ‘a lot of soul searching over the past 24 hours.’ He said that he and Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, both personally supported the bill but that the company had decided not to take an official stance on the legislation this year. He said they were pondering the role major corporations should play in larger social debates,” Kershaw reports.

“‘We are thinking hard about what is the right balance to strike – when should a public company take a position on a broader social issue, and when should it not?’ he wrote. ‘What message does the company taking a position send to its employees who have strongly held beliefs on the opposite side of the issue?’ Mr. Ballmer described the antidiscrimination measure as posing a ‘very difficult issue for many people, with strong emotions on all sides.’ He wrote, ‘both Bill and I actually both personally support this legislation,’ adding, ‘but that is my personal view, and I also know that many employees and shareholders would not agree with me,'” Kershaw reports.

Full article here.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Gay and lesbian advocacy group asks Microsoft to give back award; some call for switch to Macs – April 23, 2005

88 Comments

  1. Hairbo, the “Religious Right” IS right. Your disrespectful, disgusting use of the word “pussy” to describe them is shameful and idiotic. Learn some manner and be tolerant of majority views of social issues why don’t ya?

  2. I don’t believe Microsoft’s explanation that they did not cave in to pressure from religious conservatives. No company likes to be boycotted. But, as I noted previously, Microsoft is basically boycott-proof. Considering Apple, like most tech firms, is just as (or more) gay-friendly than MS, conservatives who boycott diversity conscious firms have few alternatives to buy from firms that still discriminate.

  3. I’ve heard Ballmer say some really wacky things in the past, but here he makes a lot of sense, and he’s right. Microsoft makes computer software, and it’s not their job to support gay legislation. Which is ridiculous anyway, in my opinion, because gays have the same civil rights as everyone else. Merely disliking homosexuality does not qualify as persecution, so these people need to get their panties out of a wad and leave Microsoft alone.

    Think of the awful precedent it would set if special interest groups had their way with every corporation that did not bow to their whims. So kudos to Microsoft – I still think your software sucks, but you did the right thing.

    MDN Magic Word – “picture” As in….

    No, wait, you really don’t want to picture this… ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  4. “What message does the company taking a position send to its employees who have strongly held beliefs on the opposite side of the issue?”

    Well, by not supporting it, as they have done for similar legislation in the past, they took a position that offends deeply held beliefs.

  5. Smack, you gotta be joking! Sure, Hairbo didn’t have to use the P-word, but if you think for one second that religious and political conservatives are civil and polite when discussing homosexuality, you’ve been living under a rock.

    Secondly, ‘majority opinion’ has no business dictating the civil and moral rights of others. No one in the majority has (or should have) the right to vote for or against the inate civil rights of those in a minority. Separate and unequal has been tried before. It was wrong then, and it’s still wrong today.

  6. The “Religious Right” is NOT in the majority.
    Also, if you reread the message, I believe that Hairbo was calling Ballmer a “pussy”. I might not agree with the use of the term, but I certainly agree with the sentiment.

  7. As I told my grandson when he questioned me regarding Gay Pride Week at his high school, “Just stand up for American Pride Week, no-one needs to know what you do in your bedroom. You can be whatever persuasion you like but keep it between yourself and your partner.”
    Sex belongs in the bedroom not the boardroom.

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