Related news across the pond: “Several Spanish mayors have said they will refuse to marry same sex couples despite a bill passed by deputies which would allow gay couples to wed.” Spain’s lower house passed the bill last week; it now goes to the Spanish Senate.

Ralph Reed’s association with Microsoft has been known for some time, but Equal Rights Washington, a LGBT group, is using it against Microsoft, which backpedaled on a state gay rights bill:

Seattle, WA (April 26, 2005) – Equal Rights Washington
demanded today that Microsoft Corporation sever its
relationship with the Former head of the Christian
Coalition Ralph Reed, who according to news reports,
earns $20,000 a month from the company. ..

Writes the Seattle Post-Intelligencer today in “Microsoft defends ties to Ralph Reed”:

Microsoft spokesman Mark Murray said the company has hired Reed on several occasions to provide advice on “trade and competition issues.” He said Reed’s relationship as a consultant with the software company extends back “several years.”

Reed’s history with Microsoft, coupled with Microsoft’s reversal on a gay rights bill for the state, unleashed a vocal backlash against the company yesterday. The bill, which would have made it illegal to discriminate against gays and lesbians in housing, employment and insurance, failed in the state Senate last week by a single vote. Supporters said that Microsoft’s shift tipped the scales. …
More below:

A Seattle Times article from 2002 — about Reed’s offer to represent Enron — says that Reed dropped Microsoft as a client in 2000. Salon has details about the story: “Microsoft’s hired gun
Former Christian Coalition frontman Ralph Reed was lobbying for Microsoft while he was serving as a chief advisor to the George W. Bush campaign.”

More from the Seattle PI article today:

Invoices show that Microsoft is currently paying Reed’s firm, Century Strategies, $20,000 a month.

[Microsoft spokesman Mark] Murray confirmed that the invoices, which were first reported by the Web log Americablog, were authentic.

But he disputed suggestions that Reed had any part in the company’s decision to withdraw its support for the gay rights legislation.

“Microsoft has worked with Century Strategies for the past several years on trade and competition issues,” Murray said. “Century Strategies has never advised Microsoft on any social policy issues — nothing related to anti-discrimination legislation.”

Though the company publicly supported a gay anti-discrimination measure last year, Murray said the change in company philosophy came in December after an internal review of the bill.

Microsoft, at the forefront of corporate gay rights for decades, came under fire from gay rights groups, politicians and its own employees after it withdrew its support for the bill.

From the Equal Rights Washington press release:

“We’re dismayed to hear that Microsoft has on the
payroll Ralph Reed, the founder of the Christian
Coalition. Mr. Reed’s policies are not the policies of
Washingtonians, nor should they be the policies of a
world class leader like Microsoft,” said George
Cheung, Executive Director of Equal Rights Washington.
“Having Ralph Reed on the payroll certainly puts into
question Microsoft’s commitment to equal rights.”

Recent news reports highlighted Microsoft’s decision
to withdraw support of HB 1515, the Anderson-Murray
Anti-Discrimination Bill, that failed by just one vote
in the State Senate. “Microsoft needs to come clean
about its relationship with Ralph Reed. Having Ralph
Reed on the payroll, coming on the heels of
Microsoft’s decision to withdraw support from the
Anti-Discrimination Bill, certainly looks bad.”

“Microsoft’s reputation as a fair-minded company is
rapidly slipping away … if Bill Gates and
Steve Ballmer are really interested in running a
fair-minded company, they would fire Ralph Reed

Earlier today, Equal Rights Washington also demanded
that Microsoft take immediate steps to improve its
relationship with the LGBT community in Washington
State. For a copy of the letter sent to Microsoft, go
to: equalrightswa

Equal Rights Washington is the largest political LGBT
organization in Washington State. For more information
about Equal Rights Washington, please visit

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