Microsoft has made public its support of legislation in the state House and Senate that would allow gay marriage in Washington state, signing on to a letter to legislative leaders with other prominent Northwest companies, and posting an entry about the company’s position on its official blog.
My colleague, Andrew Garber, wrote about the short letter signed by the six companies including Microsoft, Vulcan, NIKE, RealNetworks, Group Health Cooperative, and Concur.
Microsoft elaborated on its position in a blog post today written by its General Counsel Brad Smith. He raised economic and business-competitiveness reasons for the company’s stance, saying:
As other states recognize marriage equality, Washington’s employers are at a disadvantage if we cannot offer a similar, inclusive environment to our talented employees, our top recruits and their families. Employers in the technology sector face an unprecedented national and global competition for top talent. Despite progress made in recent years with domestic partnership rights, same-sex couples in Washington still hold a different status from their neighbors. Marriage equality in Washington would put employers here on an equal footing with employers in the six other states that already recognize the committed relationships of same-sex couples – Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. This in turn will help us continue to compete for talent.
Microsoft made a similar argument when it joined some 70 corporations in supporting a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
Microsoft has been involved in other gay rights issues before, as in 2005, when a bill banning discrimination against gays and lesbians failed by a single vote in the state Senate and Microsoft’s lack of support for the bill was criticized, and last year when it and other tech companies were put in the middle of an e-commerce culture war.