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Friday, May 06, 2005

Netroots: AmericaBlog Beats Microsoft

Posted by Bob Brigham

John Aravosis of AmericaBlog has now cemented his reputation as the nation's most effective gay-rights activist. For two weeks, AmericaBlog has been waging online politics against Microsoft:

Microsoft Abandons Gays (or Gates-gate)

- Microsoft abandons gays (4/20)
- The Stranger article that broke the story (4/20)
- Microsoft messed with the wrong faggots (4/21)
- Gay rights bill loses by one vote - Where was Microsoft? (4/21)
- Microsoft caught lying to NYT (4/22)
- HRC blasts Microsoft (4/22)
- LA Gay Center asks for its award back (4/22)
- Microsoft lies to MSNBC (4/22)
- CEO email confirms Microsoft is abandoning gays because of religious right (4/23)
- Micro-too-soft (commentary) 4/25)
- Microsoft's own employees fight back (4/25)
- Microsoft paying Ralph Reed $20k/month retainer (4/26)

And now, from the AP:

In a turnaround Friday, Microsoft Corp. chief executive Steve Ballmer said the company will support gay rights legislation.

Ballmer made the announcement in an e-mail to employees two weeks after gay rights activists accused the company of withdrawing its support for an anti-discrimination bill in its home state after an evangelical pastor threatened to launch a national boycott.

It only took John two weeks? Goliath just found out what happens when David upgrades his slingshot to a blog. Huge props to John!

UPDATE From Chris Bowers:

John's one-man crusade against Microsoft seems to have worked [...]

Although the article goes on to interview someone from Human Rights Campaign, I'm not really sure what they did besides send Microsoft a letter. As far as I'm concerned, it's Aravosis that deserves the bulk of credit.


UPDATE: Scobleizer has a has a copy of the email and says;

We're also reaching out to the various blogs and news sites that were disappointed with how we handled this.

From my position, I'm elated.

I hope that this lets us all move forward and heal some pretty deep rifts that were exposed.

First of all, people weren't "disappointed" -- they were pissed. It wasn't about how Microsoft "handled this" -- it was about Microsoft fucking up. I think it will take years to undo the damage, but none of the healing should begin until a bill is signed into law. Microsoft sank the last bill, now they need to pass a bill before anyone should consider thinking of them in a new light. Moving forward begins with Microsoft righting their wrong and it shouldn't begin until a bill is signed.

UPDATE: More praise for John, from Talk Left:

A major share of the credit is due John Aravosis of AmericaBlog who waged massive two week action campaign against Microsoft.

UPDATE: And more, from Atrios:

John 1: Microsoft Bigots: 0


No one knows how to stir up shit and get stuff to happen better than John Aravosis. Organizations interested in actually accomplishing anything instead of just comfortably maintaining the status quo should keep this in mind.

UPDATE: And, Steve Gilliard:

And a round of applause to John Aravois, who stirred up a hornet's nest with this.

God, could Microsoft be so fucking dumb. Now, I've always respected Ballmer, because he's a genuinely smart guy without the geekiness of Gates. You look at Gates and figure he's smart, but Ballmer, he gets less credit than he deserves.

Needless to say this was an executive level decision. Gates and Ballmer looked at each other and realized how stupid they looked bowing down to ONE wingnut preacher, one.

Microsoft cannot afford to alienate gays any more than any other minority group. For some reason, after years of being aggressively tolerant in the work place, they thought they could just slide this by. I would bet that after a suitable interval, Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, will be persuing opportunities in other areas.

And Joe in DC:

This episode shows once again the power of the blogs...the progressive blogs...YOU....

And, it shows once again the political skill of John Aravosis. (and I am not just saying that because he is my good friend and gives me the great privilege of writing on Americablog.) John got this immediately. He understood what it meant and, with your help, he kept it alive....and, helped push it in to the mainstream media.

Think about it. Microsoft, the corporate behemoth that doesn't take any crap from anyone, just had to publicly admit they screwed up. That doesn't happen every day.

UPDATE Tracked down in Morocco, John Aravosis remarks on the victory:

And I can say is, holy shit. A few responses.

1. You guys did it. I told you that if we stood up, raising enough hell, worked with all the other great groups and blogs and everyone else speaking out, we could win, and we did.

2. Thank you so much to The Stranger that broke all the great Microsoft stories that were the basis of our calls to action, thanks to the Gay and Lesbian Center for all their work, Equal Rights Washington, and to all of you who responded to our calls to action, and finally, to Microsoft´s own employees, gay and straight, who stood up and fought against this outrage both privately and publicly.

3. And finally, thank you to Microsoft itself. I know we have you a hard time, but sometimes you have to hurt the one you love. I know I may get some flack for saying this, but I admire Bill Gates. Very few of us could take a hundred thousand bucks and turn into the richest man in the world. That´s part of the reason it was so important for him and his company to do the right thing in this case, and they did. They didn´t have to, but they did. And for that, they deserve and get our thanks and our support.

So, I´m going back to my bottle of Morrocan Chardonnay, and hope you´ll all take a second to sit back and relish a hard-earned victory. We´ve had so few of late, it´s nice to know that they still exist, so long as we all work together and act.



Posted at 04:26 PM in Netroots | Technorati