Computer giant Microsoft has thrown its support behind Washington becoming the next state to make same-sex marriage legal, saying that such a move would be good for business and for fairness.
Microsoft has detailed in a blog post on the Official Microsoft Blog why it supports marriage equality, saying:
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. In 1993, Microsoft became the first Fortune 500 company to provide same-sex domestic partnership benefits. For almost two decades, we’ve benefited from this support and the resulting contributions of our LGBT employees.
In addition to corporate policies supporting diversity and equality, we strive to engage in a thoughtful manner in public discussions on issues that have a significant impact on our employees and our business. For example, Microsoft supported legislation in Washington State prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, as well as legislation expanding domestic partnership rights.
Our support today for Senate Bill 6239 and HB 2516, Washington’s marriage equality legislation, builds upon our previous work in this area.
The blog goes on to note that while Microsoft supports same-sex marriage rights, it recognizes that for many marriage is both a civil institution and a religious one. As such, the blog post makes it clear that Microsoft also backs this law because it would preserve religious freedom and allow Washington’s churches to choose for themselves whether to solemnize same-sex marriage or not.
The blog post is signed by Brad Smith, General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft.
Microsoft joins other big names like Concur, Group Health, Nike, RealNetworks and Vulcan Inc. in supporting marriage equality.
Washington’s marriage equality legislation will receive its first public hearing on Monday. Should everything run smoothly through public consultation and then committee stages, it is expected that the legislation will be up for a floor vote by next month.
Based on recent vote tallies the state House has enough votes to pass the legislation, but despite a Democratic majority in the Senate the vote in the upper chamber stands at one shy of passage. This should not be unduly concerning at this stage given there are still a number of legislators who have said they are undecided but may yet be convinced.
Opponent groups are planning a rally outside of the state capitol on Monday. The National Organization for Marriage has also pledged $250, 000 to helping stop the marriage equality effort, doling out the ominous warning that there will be consequences for any Republican legislators who break with the party line and endorse marriage equality. NOM issued the same cry over New York’s marriage equality effort, but the Republican legislators to whom they subsequently gave the cold shoulder have, according to The New York Times, enjoyed a bumper return.