Section One

April 29, 2005

Volume 33,
Issue 17

Sat, Feb 27, 2016



Dear Ed:

Kudos and deep thanks to you for your unstinting leadership on this legislation over so many years.

I too feel deep sadness at the vote. I also feel dismayed at the way in which an exclusionary religious message has been used as a threat against Microsoft and their support of HR1515. I feel astounded that a corporation with such a proud record on civil rights issues blinked and backed down in the face of such religious hatred and threats.

There is a broad coalition of people from many faith traditions who cherish our ancient texts and traditions that speak so clearly of God’s zeal and passion for justice for all. The texts of hatred, threats and exclusion are as graven images meant to distract us from the Divine yearning for justice and all persons to be welcomed in the Divine embrace.

Many of us stand ready to continue working with you and others for the passage of this legislation in 2006.

Thank you again for all that you represent.

All the best,

Robert V. Taylor

Dean of St. Mark’s Cathedral, Seattle


Mr. Bradford L. Smith

General Counsel

Microsoft Corporation

Dear Mr. Smith,

I am extremely disappointed by Microsoft’s decision to discontinue its advocacy of basic fairness for those who are victimized by discrimination based on their sexual orientation. As you remember, I have been very supportive of many of Microsoft’s legitimate public policy objectives, and I have not joined those who seem to me unduly critical of the company. In the conversations I have had with Microsoft representatives, one of the points that they have made to me - understandably - was Microsoft’s support for the rights of people to be free from sexual orientation discrimination. It is because of this that I feel justified in writing to tell you how saddened I was by your retreat from a position which I believed that you held in principle, and which you had cited in your legislative efforts.

I want to be clear that I am unhappy with the fact of your backing away from your support for fair treatment for gay and lesbian people without being certain as to the reason. But I have to add that having read your comments in the New York Times, in which you denied that right wing pressure was a factor, I am unconvinced. It is generally my experience that when highly intelligent people such as yourself say things which are quite implausible, some other reason must be involved. And your explanation of why Microsoft backed away is completely implausible to me.

The argument that Microsoft cannot maintain its support for anti-discrimination legislation because it has other legislative fish to fry simply does not make sense to me as someone who knows a great deal about legislating. If you were being asked to put significant lobbying resources behind the anti-discrimination measure, that argument would make sense. As I understand it, the question is simply whether or not you will maintain a statement in support of the legislation and that is in no sense of the legislative process a zero sum situation. Your decision to stop supporting an anti-discrimination measure clearly cannot be justified on the grounds that it in any way diminishes, interferes with or complicates your legislative lobbying.

I appreciate the fact that Microsoft follows policies itself which recognize that it is appropriate to treat people fairly regardless of their sexual orientation. But that would seem to me all the more reason why you would advocate such public policies for society as a whole, since you understand that these policies not only advance fairness for individuals, but also are good for the hiring enterprise.

My position on public policy issues will not of course be affected by my severe disappointment in Microsoft’s abandonment of its commitment to this important principle as a matter of public policy. But like everyone else in public life, I have many demands on my time, and I can satisfy only some of them. Dealing with Microsoft officials and representatives will now be of a much lower priority for me.

Barney Frank

Incensed at Microsoft

[The following letter was sent to Microsoft Corporation CEO Steve Ballmer re: his quotes from a companywide email as reported in the April 24 New York Times article “Microsoft CEO explains reversal on Gay Rights Bill.” -Ed.]

Dear Mr. Ballmer,

I have been a PROUD Microsoft product and MSN user for a long, long time. But I must say I am incensed at the lack of support shown by Microsoft in getting the Gay Rights Bill passed and when the Washington State House passed it so overwhelmingly. Your quote to justify the lack of effort on Microsoft’s behave is weak in vision and strong in bigotry: “I understand that many employees may disagree with the company’s decision to tighten the focus of our agenda for this year’s legislative session in Olympia,” Ballmer wrote. “But I want every employee to understand that the decision to take a neutral stance on this bill was taken before the session began based on a desire to focus our legislative efforts, not in reaction to any outside pressure.”

It is only with the pride of how Microsoft has presented itself in the past that will help support a group of citizens just as worthy as other citizens who hold more equal rights than us.

I am very, very saddened by this lack of action on Microsoft’s part and if Microsoft can’t support Gays as a group, including many Microsoft employees that should have its never ending support, then I will have to re-think my continued financial support of your products and MSN.


Walker Novak


Dear SGN,

What infuriates me the most is that the King County ordinance Microsoft hides behind in asserting the lack of a need for a statewide discrimination law is an unenforceable ordinance that offers only a hollow promise of protection even as it gives cover to those who want to keep discrimination against gays legal. What follows is my letter to the editor to the PI I just dashed off addressing this in a little more detail. I hope everyone will take the time to call both Microsoft and their County Council member to tell them its time to support Ron Sim’s effort to amend the King County’s ordinances so that they provide something other than cover for supporting the continuation of bigotry statewide. Because right now that is all they provide, and anyone who thinks otherwise is sadly mistaken.

To the editor,

The assertion by the Microsoft spokesperson in the New York Times today that it viewed it as unnecessary to support a state anti-discrimination law that protects gays and lesbians from purposeful discrimination because King County’s ordinance already does this shows extreme ignorance, or a strong desire to deceive. King County’s anti-discrimination employment ordinance only covers unincorporated King County, it does not cover any of the cities in King County, or any of the businesses located in any of the cities. The King County ordinance does not allow someone to go to court to enforce its provisions, individuals are instead limited to filing a complaint with a King County Agency that has almost no staff. Further, even if the agency had sufficient staff, it lacks basic enforcement tools such as the ability to subpoena documents from a company accused of discrimination. The King County ordinance is nothing more than a hollow shell, which is apparently also true of Microsoft’s commitment to non-discrimination. If Microsoft really was in the dark about the entire lack of enforceability of King County’s discrimination ordinances, presumably it will start lobbying the Republican’s on the County Council to join with Democrats in changing the existing ordinance into something that is more than unenforceable words. As it is, every Republican on the County Council seems intent on making sure the King County ordinance remains unenforceable, to the point that they even continue to resist giving the county agency subpoena power.

It’s sad really, that Microsoft viewed it as more important to listen to the hate mongers then what they know is right. It’s time to stop treating gay people as a lower caste who can legally be denied employment, housing and other basic needs simply because of their orientation. And it’s time to stand up to the hate mongers, whether they wrap themselves in the robes of a pope or the sanctimony of a mega-church. They are spewing bigotry and prejudice, period. And every one of them should be ashamed, and told to their face that their evil is showing. Because it is, and it’s getting really, really old.

Mike Keller


Sen. Luke Esser,

I must write to tell you how terribly disappointed I am in you and the Republican Party. Disregarding your future fears, you cannot be unaware that many of our fellow human beings are discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation. It is simply not acceptable that this is knowingly continued in this state.

Many people did not like that fact that persons of different races wanted to marry; some even felt it went against their religious beliefs. But, no matter how much they hated it, laws were passed to eliminate that discrimination.

For you and a party that trumpets its belief in less government interference, why on earth would you and your party feel the need to inject yourselves into people’s private lives? Somehow the Republicans have devolved into the party of Cotton Mather and other scolds.

When I bring the party into it, I refer you to Sen. Finkbeiner’s previous votes in past years. Obviously this was a straight party-line vote and the party of Lincoln should be ashamed.


Nancy Rising

Kirkland, WA


[The following letter was published Tuesday in the Spokane Spokesman-Review. -Ed.]

To the Editor:

I was thrilled to hear the Schoonovers’ rousing support for marriage equality in their letter opposing benefits for unmarried domestic partners (“Want benefits? Get married,” April 20). They contend that if people want the benefits of marriage, they should get married. That’s a wonderful idea; why didn’t Gay people think of that before?

Assuming the Schoonovers won’t be coming to our next marriage equality rally, I’ll file their flawed argument in the same folder as “Gay people are promiscuous,” which is why we shouldn’t allow them to make relationships permanent; “Gay people choose to be that way” because they must like being fired from jobs, being kicked out of their homes and being prevented from caring for sick loved ones; “Gay people undermine the stability of society” by wanting to create stable families; and “Gay parents create Gay kids,” despite the fact that all the Gay folks I know came from heterosexual parents.

I’ll also include reasoning that says: “I’m for personal freedom” but not if you are Gay, and “I’m for less government interference” unless you are telling people who to love.

Of course, maybe they do support marriage equality! If so, contact Inland Northwest Equality and get on the mailing list!

Barbara Williamson

Spokane, WA

Leslie Robinson

Madelyn Arnold

Paula Martinac