Ralph Reed: "But Bill, I DO like homosexuals–
and your $20,000 monthly retainer"
Sarah Kershaw’s article in yesterday’s Times raised an interesting and important issue regarding the company’s close relationship with Ralph Reed. The issue arose in connection with Microsoft’s recent abandonment of proposed State gay right legislation. Now, the coverage of this issue is broadening to encompass Microsoft’s relationship with one the country’s savviest and most conservative Republican lobbyists; one who also holds views that are antipathetic not only to many employees, but perhaps to the company’s Code of Conduct.
As a human rights activist quoted in the article put it:
"We’re dismayed to know that Ralph Reed is on the payroll of
Microsoft," said Dan Kully, a spokesman for Equal Rights Washington.
"In our opinion, Microsoft’s reputation as a fair-minded company is
rapidly slipping away from them."
A MS employee quoted the company’s Code of Conduct to Kershaw:
"Microsoft expects its vendors to share its commitment to human rights
and equal opportunity in the workplace. While we recognize and respect
cultural differences, we believe that vendor companies should not
engage in discrimination in hiring, compensation, access to training,
promotion, termination or retirement based on race, caste, national
origin, religion, age, disability, gender, marital status, sexual
orientation, union membership or political affiliation."
Where Kershaw slips in her article is that she focuses the issue on whether Reed’s company, Century Strategies, adheres to the code in its hiring practices (the company’s website says nothing about this subject–but I’d be curious just how many African-Americans and gays work there). But even more important is whether Reed himself, as one of the most outspoken Republican/evangelical political operatives in the country, accepts Microsoft’s code. Does Ralph Reed believe in the idea that there should not be discrimination based on sexual orientation in society or the workplace? If so, I’d like to hear him say it clearly so that he’ll alienate the tens of millions of evangelical voters he’s appealing to when he speaks on behalf of the Bush campaign or in his run for Georgia Lt. Governor. If he doesn’t believe in this, then why is Microsoft paying him $20,000 per month to represent its interests?
I just did some googling around and discovered this coverage of a 1997 speech Reed delivered at Johns Hopkins University:
Reed also explicitly stated that he opposed assisted
suicide, abortion and homosexuality…Reed added that "the traditional
society should be according to a moral code, and there should be
no deviations from that moral code." Among those deviations he listed divorce, out-of-wedlock
births and same-sex marriages.
Come on, we all know Ralph Reed is disgusted by the idea of protecting gays from discrimination in society or the workplace. Who’re we kidding? So Bill, I’m afraid you’ve got some more explaining to do. We all know why you hired Reed. He’s one smooth operator and has the ear of the most senior Bush administration officials including the president himself if he needs it. No doubt, Reed greased the skids for Bush’s total cave-in on the anti-trust case that allowed Microsoft to walk away without a scratch with its monopolistic practices essentially intact. No doubt, Reed delivers. But Bill, do you want Microsoft identified with a bigot and gay-hater? I hope not.