Microsoft Joins Apple in Public Support of Same-Sex Marriage

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Software giant Microsoft has joined Apple in publicly backing same-sex marriage by voicing its support for two bills currently being considered in Washington state. 

The Redmond company issued a statement Thursday on its Official Microsoft Blog in support of two bills in the Washington state legislatures, Senate Bill 6239 and House Bill 2516. The move has Microsoft joining five other major corporations who have also publicly pledged support for the legislation: Vulcan, Nike, RealNetworks, Group Health Cooperative, and Concur.

Microsoft and Apple Support Same Sex Marriage

Wedding rings image via Shutterstock.

Brad Smith, Microsoft General Counsel and Executive Vice President, authored the blog post. In it he argued that Microsoft’s support of same-sex marriage was necessary because the company needs a “workforce that is as diverse as [its] customers.”

“Every day, the national and global economies are becoming more diverse. The lifeblood of a business is its ability to understand and connect with its customers. We’re no exception. Now more than ever, the most effective workforce is a diverse workforce,” Mr. Smith added. 

The executive also pointed out that this is not the first time that Microsoft has taken a stance in support of same-sex marriage. In 1993, Microsoft became the first Fortune 500 company to provide benefits to sam-sex couples.

Microsoft’s latest support for same-sex marriage joins Apple’s recent efforts on the subject. The Cupertino company publicly opposed California’s Proposition 8 ballot initiative in 2008, going so far as to donate $100,000 to the opposition campaign. While Proposition 8 initially passed, it has since been overturned, with that ruling affirmed by the Ninth Circuit in 2010.

Further, both companies participated in the “It Gets Better” campaign in 2011, which provided support to young people bullied for their sexual and gender orientation.

The Atlantic, in discussing Microsoft’s Thursday statement, provides a pertinent summation: “Discrimination is bad for tech businesses. This is true regardless which group of people discrimination targets. Companies can’t hire the best people, and the best people can’t do their best work. And in the end, everybody loses.”

Comments

webjprgm

I don’t think it’s right for a tech company to voice opinions on purely social issues.  These can only be the opinions of a consensus of upper managements / board of directors.  There is no business reason to voice such an opinion (other than being cool in the eyes of some and uncool in the eyes of others).  I doubt Apple, Microsoft, etc. did a survey of all their employees to decide to support this.  So how can they say things like this?

Now coming out on SOPA is different, because that directly affects the business of companies like Google who said something.

Jim Tanous

There is no business reason to voice such an opinion

Not at all. In this case, Smith stated clearly that MS believes that qualified employees (or potential employees) won’t stay in (or come to) Washington (MS’s HQ) if they don’t feel welcomed or included there. If a same-sex couple chooses to wed, they’ll have to go elsewhere. By ensuring maximum inclusiveness, you guarantee the largest pool of quality talent.

It may not be as direct as SOPA/PIPA, but it’s a valid business reason nonetheless.

TitanTiger

I too would prefer a “separation of company and state.”  I’m not particularly interested in hearing companies I do business with jump into social and political issues that don’t have to do with their core mission and reason for being in business.

Just to play devil’s advocate for a second, Jim, I could say that pushing for laws such as this, qualified employees (or potential employees) who have issues of conscience in objecting to SSM could also feel unwelcome or not included.  They could feel pressure to “get in line” with the company and state stance on the issue or have to go elsewhere.  Passing this law doesn’t maximize inclusiveness, it simply shifts who the preferred included groups will be.

Jim Tanous

I could say that pushing for laws such as this, qualified employees (or potential employees) who have issues of conscience in objecting to SSM could also feel unwelcome or not included.

That’s true, TitanTiger, and it is undoubtedly a consequence of Microsoft’s stance that some employees will feel “unwelcome.” Although I would argue there’s a difference between personal preference and a legal bar. Microsoft in this case is not taking any action to force employees to support same-sex marriage, or retaliating against those that oppose it. Nor does its support for the law indicate that same-sex marriages are “preferred.” It merely indicates that they are not spurned.

mchampag

I doubt Apple, Microsoft, etc. did a survey of all their employees to decide to support this.

Why? While I have no knowledge of the matter, it’s perfectly conceivable to me that Apple (and MS) did in fact poll its employees and come to this decision democratically. It’s even possible that the initiative for the position came from the lower echelons of the company.

Boscher

I work for a Fortune 500 company and our core values implicitly embrace diversity as one of our biggest strengths.  Our company has never had to poll us because it is in our culture to support our employees and their families because every person is vital to our success no matter their race, age, creed, orientation, etc.  I couldn’t imagine making any of my gay colleagues feel like they are less important than my straight colleagues.  They can work for another company if they do not share the same values as the rest of us do.  So, when someone accepts a job at Microsoft, Apple or any other place where they support non-discrimination, it is implied that you live by the same values because each of you represent the company you keep.

TitanTiger

Diversity doesn’t mean you must accept anything and everything people wish to do.  It also doesn’t mean that you make people who feel differently about a matter feel less important because they have moral convictions that are dissimilar to yours.  People need to grow up and realize that thing where other people have to accept and tolerate your beliefs on something is a two way street.  It’s not “accept what we believe and keep the hell quiet about what you think.”

Boscher

Sorry, but it is not “accept what we believe and keep the hell quiet”...it is “if you share our values, choose to work here”.  If an employee at Microsoft or Apple does not share their values, they can choose to work somewhere that does.  Discrimination is a one way street.

Bob Forsberg

Corporate involvement in controversial social issues is extremely destructive to the bottom line. Competence of board members should be questioned.

Jemmine Cricket

I know I’ll get flamed but homosexuality will never make our country better only spiritually poorer. Look to history any culture who has embraced homosexuality has gone the way of ruin. I am an Apple customer and a stock holder and I don’t like them taking this track. JMO…GC

TitanTiger

Sorry, but it is not ?accept what we believe and keep the hell quiet?...it is ?if you share our values, choose to work here?.? If an employee at Microsoft or Apple does not share their values, they can choose to work somewhere that does.? Discrimination is a one way street.

Actually, that’s exactly what it is for people who have been working there prior to this new initiative. 

Neither is discrimination a one-way street.  When you discriminate against people whose beliefs are different from yours, you don’t get to just assume the moral high ground.

Boscher

Actually, everything is exactly the same as it was before they voiced their support for this initiative.  You think this is the first time Microsoft supported their LGBT employees?  In 1993, they were the first Fortune 500 company to offer same-sex domestic partnership benefits.  Their decision is directly in line with their fundamental company values.  The same ones they have had for about twenty years.  They are taking the moral high ground.  How successful would Microsoft or Apple be if they were only filled with straight white men?  How successful is Microsoft and Apple for respecting ALL of their employees and what they contribute to the company? 

I work for an amazing company that respects my family because it is a fundamental core value of theirs.  My company, like Microsoft, says “You are important…you are vital to our success…you are safe from all forms of discrimination.”  I am Native American.  I am a gay male.  I have a partner of 7 years.  I have two awesome children whom I thank God for every day.  I had to stop typing my response because my two year old has a story read to him every night before bed. 

You are not different than me.  You are different like me.

Quoted from Microsoft:

At Microsoft, we pride ourselves on our products and services, our brand, and our global reach. But unquestionably, our employees are our greatest asset.

To be successful, it?s critical that we have a workforce that is as diverse as our customers. Every day, the national and global economies are becoming more diverse. The lifeblood of a business is its ability to understand and connect with its customers. We?re no exception. Now more than ever, the most effective workforce is a diverse workforce.

While some of our employees literally grew up around the corner, others have come from every state and almost 150 countries around the world. They reflect virtually every background in the country and on the planet. They bring their creativity to work, and they put it to good use in developing new products and serving our customers. There simply is no substitute for their diverse backgrounds, perspectives, skills and experiences.

Inclusiveness is therefore a fundamental part of our values, and is integral to the company?s business success.

This means it?s important to go beyond simply forbidding discrimination; we strive to actively promote diversity, equality and inclusion in our workplace.

Dean Lewis

+1,000,000 to Boscher.

As for the rest: the 19th Century called and congratulates you on carrying its values into the new millennium.

TitanTiger

First of all, no one said anything about only allowing “straight”, “white” or “men” to work anywhere.  You can respect your employees without supporting SSM.  I can respect the hell out of an employee who does great work for the company but simply lives with his girlfriend or is into polyamory for all it matters.  Doesn’t mean I have a moral obligation to provide benefits to their partner(s) or incorporate their particular choice of relationship into the definition of marriage.

cb50dc

I could say that pushing for laws such as this, qualified employees (or potential employees) who have issues of conscience in objecting to SSM could also feel unwelcome or not included.  They could feel pressure to ?get in line? with the company and state stance on the issue or have to go elsewhere.

Correct, TitanTiger ? much as so many businesses in the south Alabama of my youth felt “pressure” (legally!) to serve meals to black customers as well as white, to allow them to sit wherever they wanted on the bus, to get rid of those segregated third-class facilities for “Colored” in many (most?) public areas such as movie theaters, and so on.

Homosexuality is just as biologically driven as the amount of melanin in one’s skin; sexual orientation is no more a “choice” than the natural texture of one’s hair, the size of one’s lips, one’s height or skeletal structure.

Dang, it’s been quite a century! Women demanded and (gasp) received the right to VOTE. Our military had to integrate its forces (despite all those who predicted “morale” problems and said “it just ain’t RIGHT”). Soon all those with substantially more melanin *also* had the gall to expect basic civil rights. And today, persons who naturally feel more intimate and sexual attraction to members of their own sex likewise expect the human and civil right of legally marrying, with all the privileges and benefits, to enhance their freedom to raise their own families as well.

Apple and MS, correspondingly, are simply doing what some more compassionate, enlightened, justice-minded Americans did in the 50’s and 60’s: they accepted persons of all races, cultures, and ethnicities. And, sure, they met LOTS of resistance from those who feared losing their privileged status. Same principle here.

TitanTiger

Correct, TitanTiger ? much as so many businesses in the south Alabama of my youth felt ?pressure? (legally!) to serve meals to black customers as well as white, to allow them to sit wherever they wanted on the bus, to get rid of those segregated third-class facilities for ?Colored? in many (most?) public areas such as movie theaters, and so on.

But again, who is proposing that Microsoft “not serve” anyone?  No one.  As I stated, someone’s private decisions regarding their romantic/ sexual relationships isn’t up for discussion as to whether they can work there, advance and have a full and successful career.

Homosexuality is just as biologically driven as the amount of melanin in one?s skin; sexual orientation is no more a ?choice? than the natural texture of one?s hair, the size of one?s lips, one?s height or skeletal structure.

While I disagree with this (I think homosexuality is far more complex than mere determinative biology), simply being homosexual or having homosexual inclinations is not what is at issue here.

Dang, it?s been quite a century! Women demanded and (gasp) received the right to VOTE. Our military had to integrate its forces (despite all those who predicted ?morale? problems and said ?it just ain?t RIGHT?). Soon all those with substantially more melanin *also* had the gall to expect basic civil rights. And today, persons who naturally feel more intimate and sexual attraction to members of their own sex likewise expect the human and civil right of legally marrying, with all the privileges and benefits, to enhance their freedom to raise their own families as well.

You and others are far better off in this discussion when you can drop the ad hominems and quit trying to win by labeling your opponents.  I fully respect that you feel differently about this and actually enjoying hashing it out, but trying to box people in by essentially calling them bigots (or if the shoe were on the other foot, “perverts”) because they don’t share your views doesn’t get us anywhere.

Apple and MS, correspondingly, are simply doing what some more compassionate, enlightened, justice-minded Americans did in the 50?s and 60?s: they accepted persons of all races, cultures, and ethnicities. And, sure, they met LOTS of resistance from those who feared losing their privileged status. Same principle here.

And I believe that acceptance and loving other people doesn’t mean you have to pro-actively affirm all their choices.  You may give them the space and privacy to make certain decisions you don’t personally agree with, but it is not the default “moral high ground” position to actively support them in their pursuit of such decisions.

Boscher

My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God’s plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone, they have a right to marry.
Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don?t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the ‘wrong kind of person’ for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people?s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.
I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That?s what Loving, and loving, are all about.
-Mildred Loving

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