April 23, 2005
Gates & the Gays
Kevin is the latest to call my attention to a story that’s been roiling the gay blogosphere. Microsoft, long beloved of gays for its progressive partnership policies, done did us wrong (in the eyes of many) by “withdrawing its support for a state bill that would have barred discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”
Thing is, this isn’t a straightforward “cruel, giant corporation screws oppressed minority” story. This is more like “giant corporation declines to back legislation preventing cruel majority from screwing oppressed minority,” which makes it a bit murkier in my view. Why?
As gay MeFite dirtynumbangelboy points out in the related MetaFilter thread, progressives usually decry corporate muddling in politics. That MS is stepping out of the legislative fray rather than throwing its dirty corporate weight around should give us cheer, right?
While I don’t know that there are any progressives out there who want corporations to have no voice in civil affairs, I do think this is a matter best decided by the Washington state legislature, not Microsoft. A solid, coherent progressive strategy on this front might be to say, “Oh, so you’re withdrawing your voice on legislation now? How about you dial down your attacks on some of these antitrust laws then?” I have a sneaky suspicion that using this to rally for Microsoft’s greater withdrawal from public affairs would have a more positive effect than excoriating them for dooming this bill.
It’s not Microsoft’s fault that employers can still discriminate against gays in Washington, it’s the fault of the legislature. Let’s not forget that.