Friday, April 22, 2005

What To Do About Mr. Softee?

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Washington’s failure to pass a bill extending civil rights protections to gays and lesbians:

Many who gathered in the state Senate chamber yesterday may have hoped to witness history. And it would have been historic if, after nearly 30 years of attempts, the Legislature had passed a bill extending civil rights protections to gays and lesbians.

The bill did not pass. It failed by a single vote, opposed by all the Senate Republicans and two Democrats.

But those expecting a glimpse of history were not denied, no matter how disappointing the vote. What they witnessed was a piece of history, a ragged slice of a long, dark history of politicians and governments perpetuating prejudice, bigotry and injustice.

Those present may have sniffed in that chamber the lingering stale scent of Southern halls of government nearly a half-century ago. There was the same musty flavor in the religious justifications for prejudice and the political arguments for continued government tolerance of discrimination against a group of people deemed inferior or just plain different.

Most senators who voted no presumably did so to reflect their districts, believing that a majority of their constituents favor discrimination over civil liberties. Particularly in such increasingly diverse suburban areas as Kirkland, Vancouver, Bellevue, Issaquah, Bothell and Auburn, the final measure of that political calculation may await only the next election.

It’s no secret that Microsoft, one of the largest employers in the state and no slouch — until now — in supporting civil rights for the gay community, caved to pressure from the Religious Reich and decided to stay neutral on the bill’s passage, whereas in the past they had supported it. John at AMERICAblog is canvassing his readers for suggestions on how to retaliate against Microsoft, either by boycotting their products or voicing outrage to Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft. One step would be for those who own shares of Microsoft stock (whose symbol on the NASDAQ is MSFT, earning it the ironic nickname of “Mr. Softee” because of its agressive take-over policies) to dump them from their portfolio and go with companies that are more queer-friendly — or at least not “neutral” when it comes to supporting basic human rights for all Americans.

My suggestion is to support the Human Rights Campaign’s efforts to get the attention of Microsoft and get them to reconsider their position, and write — or better yet, e-mail — the company to get them to see the error of their ways. The damage has been done; the Washington legislature defeated the bill, but there is now the opportunity to educate both the politicians and the public.

Failing that, Linux and Firefox work on most computers. And I still have my Apple IIc in the garage.