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Houston Voice, April 29, 2005
File 008
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Houston Voice, April 29, 2005 - File 008. 2005-04-29. University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. December 14, 2017. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/3005/show/2987.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(2005-04-29). Houston Voice, April 29, 2005 - File 008. Montrose Voice. University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/3005/show/2987

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Voice, April 29, 2005 - File 008, 2005-04-29, Montrose Voice, University of Houston Libraries, accessed December 14, 2017, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/3005/show/2987.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Voice, April 29, 2005
Contributor
  • Crain, Chris
  • Fisher, Binnie
Publisher Window Media
Date April 29, 2005
Language English
Subject
  • LGBTQ community
  • LGBTQ people
  • Gay liberation movement
Place
  • Houston, Texas
Genre
  • newspapers
Type
  • Text
Identifier OCLC: 31485329
Rights In Copyright: This item is protected by copyright. Copyright to this resource is held by the creator or current rights holder, and the resource is provided here for educational purposes. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without permission of the copyright owner. Users assume full responsibility for any infringement of copyright or related rights.
Note This item was digitized from materials loaned by the Gulf Coast Archive and Museum (GCAM).
Item Description
Title File 008
Transcript HOUSTON VOICE www.houstonvoice.com APRIL 29, 2005 I national cover story Religious conservatives declare victory in boycott battles MICROSOFT, continued from Pagel The company decided to downsize its legislative priorities list prior to the legislative session starting earlier this year, Begasse said. Exactly when Microsoft switched from being supportive of the Washington nondiscrimination bill remains in dispute. Begasse said the company decided before the 2005 legislative session that it would focus only on issues directly related to its business, such as computer privacy, education and competitiveness. But on Feb. 1, two gay Microsoft employees testified before a state House committee in favor of the non-discrimination bill. Asked if they represented Microsoft's official position, the employees responded by informing lawmakers that the company issued a letter of support for a similar bill in 2004, and was preparing to send another letter this year, said George Cheung, executive director of Equal Rights Washington. "But the letter never came," Cheung said. "It seems clear in terms of the timing that [Hutcherson] had some impact on Microsoft's decision to withdraw its support." Upon watching the testimony of the two Microsoft employees, Hutcherson requested a meeting with company officials to clarify whether the workers represented Microsoft's official position, Begasse said. Over the course of two meetings between the conservative pastor and Microsoft officials, Hutcherson asked that the two employees who testified be fired, but Microsoft refused his demands, Begasse said. "Rev. Hutcherson also urged Microsoft to change its position [on the non-discrimination bill] from neutral to negative, and we declined," Begasse added. "We are disappointed people are misrepresenting those meetings." But Hutcherson isn't alone in giving himself credit for coercing Microsoft to change its stance. Reports in both the Stranger and New York Times cited anonymous gay Microsoft employees who were present during a March 29 meeting between Microsoft Senior Vice President Brad Smith and GLEAM, the company's gay employee group. During that session, Smith allegedly cited pressure from Hutcherson as the reason behind the company's switch. Asked if there were any gay employees who attended the meeting who could refute the allegations from the anonymous sources, Begasse said there were and that those employees were allowed to talk with the media if they pleased. Multiple attempts to contact GLEAM members for interviews were unsuccessful by press time. Cheung, from Equal Rights Washington, said his group had also been unable to talk with gay Microsoft employees, and added it is possible that Hutcherson is inadvertently benefiting from Microsoft's switch even though he may have had nothing to do with it. But that doesn't lessen the negative impact Microsoft's decision had on the non-discrimination bill, Cheung said. "What's important to know is that Sen. Bill Finbeiner, the [Republican] minority leader who locked up all 23 members of his caucus to vote against the bill, represents Redmond, which is Microsoft's district," Cheung said. "So Microsoft's decision certainly gave him extra political coverage not to support the bill." Cheung also criticized Microsoft's employment of Ralph Reed, a conservative political consultant who rose to fame as former president of the Christian Coalition. Reed, currently a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in Georgia, has been paid by Microsoft for several years, but his company, Century Strategies, is limited to advising Microsoft on issues like trade and competition, Begasse said. "Century Strategies has never advised Microsoft in any way on any social policy issues, including anti-discrimination legislation," Begasse said. In an interview with the Seattle Times published Tuesday, Gates said the company did not expect the media firestorm over its decision to drop its support of the nondiscrimination bill. He added that Microsoft may consider endorsing the bill when it is introduced in 2006. Procter & Gamble changing? Employing the same bravado Hutcherson used in describing his alleged takedown of Microsoft, the American Family Association recently sent an e- mail alert to its members, listing a litany of gay-friendly positions Procter & Gamble supposedly abandoned as a result of AFA's boycott of the company. "Our boycott of P&G has been successful." AFA Chair Donald Wildmon wrote in the April 16 e-mail. "We cannot say they are 100 percent clean ... but judging by all that we found in our research, it appears that our concerns have been addressed." When the AFA launched its boycott against Procter & Gamble products — most notably Tide detergent and Crest toothpaste — it cited the Cincinnati-based company's support for the campaign to repeal Article 12, a section of Cincinnati's charter that prohibited laws based on sexual orientation, including non-discrimination and domestic partner benefit policies. Procter & Gamble's efforts included donating $10,000 to Citizens to Restore Fairness, an ad-hoc group created to remove the measure. In an August 2004 letter to employees, Procter & Gamble executives said "Article 12 "prevents Cincinnati from developing a reputation as an open and welcoming community" and "negatively impacts the city and region's image and therefore limits P&G's ability to attract and retain the best talent to help build our business." AFA responded to the letter by launching a boycott in conjunction with Focus on the Family, and claiming that Procter & Gamble's position equated to an endorsement of gay marriage. Ralph Reed has been paid by Microsoft for several years, but his company, Century Strategies, is limited to advising Microsoft on issues like trade and competition. (Photo by AP) "To keep homosexuals from being legally married is discrimination for a good reason, which P&G says they will not tolerate," the AFA's boycott literature read. Procter & Gamble did not withdraw its support for repealing Article 12, and Cincinnati voters approved the repeal in November. But the AFA claimed this month that Procter & Gamble has changed its policies, including no longer advertising its products on "TV programs promoting the homosexual lifestyle, such as Alice and Grace [sic]." The AFA also notes that a Procter & Gamble executive who strongly supported repealing Article 12 "is no longer with the company." But that former executive said Tuesday that AFA officials are being disingenuous in declaring victory, just as they were when they initially announced the boycott last fall. "Accuracy and integrity, of course, isn't AFA's strong suit," said Gary Wright, who used to work as Procter & Gamble's corporate demographer and associate director for global trends. Wright took a two-month leave of absence from Procter & Gamble last year to lead Citizens to Restore Fairness. Following the November election, Wright resigned from the company to immerse himself in gay rights activism on a full-time basis, he said. "As far as I can see, there has been no change in Procter & Gamble's approach to gay and lesbian issues, so I'm a little puzzled by the timing in the AFA announcement to call their boycott off," said Wright, who continues to chair Citizens to Restore Fairness as it transitions into a permanent organization. Doug Shelton, a Procter & Gamble spokesperson, declined comment on the specific allegations made in the AFA e- mail, but said the company is pleased the boycott has been suspended. A representative from the AFA sched uled an interview with the Blade this week, but canceled it the next day Boycotts ineffective? While Microsoft in particular received blistering criticism from gay rights groups for its policy reversal, some workplace watchdogs said boycotts have become increasingly ineffective, causing them to doubt the claims of the conservative leaders. "We have to be really careful and definitely get all the facts straight in these situations before believing the words of these ministers, and improperly crediting them with bringing about change." said Shelly Alpern, assistant vice president and director of social research at Trillium Asset Management, a firm dedicated to "socially responsible investing." "On the face of it. it doesn't make sense that companies that have really been leaders on gay and lesbian issues are going to backtrack," Alpern said. Trillium owns Microsoft stock and is considering writing a letter to company executives, but first wants an in-depth briefing by gay and lesbian Microsoft employees, she said. The recent developments between corporations and religious groups are surprising considering the limited success conservatives have had when trying to derail gay- friendly practices at the corporate level, said Melissa Sklarz, co-chair of the Equality Project, which advocates for workplace equality for gays. "I've always been so proud of corporate America in this area, to see them take the lead on issues of diversity, that now to think that they are buckling under a campaign based on hate and fear would be unfortunate," Sklarz said. "But I don't think corporate America will respond to this angry, small, bitter minority and change the American dream of being able to work hard and achieve success," she said.
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