MS Switches Gay Rights Position, Again

Microsoft has backed away from its neutral stance when it comes to anti-discrimination for gays in the workplace, once again pledging its support for legislation protecting gay rights. The neutral position sparked a flurry of media attention in late April. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced the change of heart in a letter to employees.

"After looking at the question from all sides, I've concluded that diversity in the workplace is such an important issue for our business that it should be included in our legislative agenda. Since our beginning nearly 30 years ago, Microsoft has had a strong business interest in recruiting and retaining the best and brightest and most diverse workforce possible," Ballmer wrote.

"I'm proud of Microsoft's commitment to non-discrimination in our internal policies and benefits, but our policies can’t cover the range of housing, education, financial and similar services that our people and their partners and families need. Therefore, it's appropriate for the company to support legislation that will promote and protect diversity in the workplace.

"Accordingly, Microsoft will continue to join other leading companies in supporting federal legislation that would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation -- adding sexual orientation to the existing law that already covers race, sex, national origin, religion, age and disability.

"Given the importance of diversity to our business, it is appropriate for the company to endorse legislation that prohibits employment discrimination on all of these grounds. Obviously, the Washington State legislative session has concluded for this year, but if legislation similar to HB 1515 is introduced in future sessions, we will support it."

"I respect that there will be different viewpoints," Ballmer conceeded. "But as CEO, I am doing what I believe is right for our company as a whole."

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