False Alarm?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

False Alarm?

Via Atrios, I read the Americablog post from yesterday urging people to call Microsoft and complain about the company's withdrawing its support from a gay rights bill in the State of Washington. According to Americablog, the critical vote on the bill is on Friday (tomorrow).

But that doesn't seem to check out. The bill seems to have been effectively killed on April 6, when the solid GOP caucus was joined by two Dems in sending it to the Senate Judiciary Committee (it had already been sent to and approved by another committee). This was reported at the time as a death blow for this session, because one of the crossover Dems is on that committee, creating (with the GOP members) a 5-4 majority against the bill.

So I investigated. The article from The Stranger that Americablog quoted is now on-line. It makes for very interesting reading (though I will say, as one who loves reading that paper when I'm visiting the in-laws in Seattle, that The Stranger isn't the most reliable source of accurate information). But all of the events reported in the article occurred before the key April 6 vote, including a telephonic shouting match between gay legislator Ed Murray and a Microsoft suit.

I went to the legislature's website. The bill is listed as still being in committee, and is not listed among the bills that are on the Senate floor. The Judiciary Committee, meanwhile, has no scheduled meetings for the rest of the week. So it's not apparent what the big vote on Friday is supposed to be. Maybe it's some kind of maneuver to take the bill away from the committee and bring it back to the floor, though that seems implausible in light of what happened on April 6--this move would probably require a Republican to break ranks, which is reported to be unlikely.

To be clear: if the article is accurate, then Microsoft did something reprehensible. And maybe its action paved the way for the defeat on April 6. But I'm not sure that the urgent call to arms in the next 24 hours was right.

If anyone knows more--especially if you've contacted Microsoft and gotten their official line--please comment.

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