Section One

April 29, 2005

Volume 33,
Issue 17

Sat, Feb 27, 2016


An Open Letter
An Open Letter to Microsoft from Equal Rights Washington
April 26, 2005

Dear Mr. Ballmer and Mr. Gates,

On behalf of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community in Washington State, we at Equal Rights Washington (ERW) request a meeting with you to discuss MicrosoftÂ’s withdrawal of support for the Anderson Murray Anti-Discrimination Bill, HB 1515. Your actions send a signal that you have given up your leadership position on valuing the contributions of LGBT employees, consumers, shareholders and citizens. Frankly, we expect better from you.

Discrimination affects Microsoft, its employees, and its customers. In the past, Microsoft has made it clear that supporting equality for LGBT Americans is a good business decision, because it helps attract talented employees to the company and keep them there. Yet, with the failure of HB 1515, it remains completely LEGAL for a landlord in Redmond or Kirkland to evict a Microsoft employee simply because he is Gay; local anti-discrimination laws only cover Seattle, Burien and unincorporated King County. Such a situation must obviously be a cause of great concern for Microsoft.

In order to address the concerns of our community, we ask that you take the following actions:

1. Meet with us. This letter should be the beginning of an ongoing dialogue. I will be calling your office in the next several days, and hope to have the chance to speak with either of you, or appropriate staff at Microsoft who can help us understand your decisions to date and how you intend to proceed in the future. We also publicly invite Microsoft to participate in an ERW Community Town Hall at the Seattle LGBT Community Center on May 5 from 7:00-9:00 p.m.

2. Support anti-discrimination legislation in the Washington State Legislature. This bill will be reintroduced in 2006 and we wholeheartedly welcome your support.

3. Lobby Eastside City Councils to pass anti-discrimination policies. In your letter to Microsoft employees, you state that you are both personally supportive of HB 1515. We request your commitment, either as representatives of Microsoft or as individuals, to encourage local government officials to end discrimination in their communities. Actions speak louder than words.

There is a lot at stake here, both for Microsoft and its reputation, and for the LGBT residents of Washington State. I look forward to our conversation.


George Cheung

Executive Director

Equal Rights Washington

Leslie Robinson

Madelyn Arnold

Paula Martinac