Rev. Ken Hutcherson made an appearance at Microsoft's annual shareholder's meeting on Tuesday. As usual, Hutcherson was there representing the interests of Thomas Strohbar, founder of numerous anti-birth control, anti-choice, and anti-gay financial organizations.
Strohbar's road to financial security has nothing to do with typical investment strategies. Strohbar invests in stocks and mutual funds that he believes reflects God's portfolio.
From Strobhar Financial:
Thomas Strobhar also provides stock market screening information to a number of large professional organizations. This information helps Catholic dioceses and religious orders comply with the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops' Investment Guidelines. This information has been helpful in avoiding companies involved in immoral business pursuits especially pornography and abortion. Evangelical groups have been especially appreciative where this applies to gambling and corporations that support gay marriage.
Strohbar also invests in companies that he wants to influence with his shareholder vote, such as Microsoft. He and Ken Hutcherson have been after Microsoft for several years.
In 2007, Ken Hutcherson told Microsoft, "I am probably one of the worst nightmares this corporation can have." Despite years of complaints, Hutcherson's so-called nightmare is more like a forgettable dream.
Microsoft donated $100,000 to the Approve Referendum 71 campaign. That donation inspired Hutcherson's 2009 rant at the shareholder's meeting. He said:
You have given millions of dollars to the homosexual community, millions. We're asking that you should put those out that people may see what you're giving to a group that is discriminatory, that uses pushing, that uses hatred speech, and as of this year with referendum 71, you also have to agree what took place and you have to ask yourselves did some of the money you gave help them take over 130,000 members of Washington State to court -- to court -- many times, in order to be able to prove what names were on the list of referendum 71, on those petitions. For one reason, and one reason only, and that is to intimidate, that is to harass and to scare anyone that disagrees with them.
Hutcherson took liberties with the truth and history. He claimed the Approve 71 campaign took his campaign to court several times. This is laughable.
Washington Families Standing Together (the Approve 71 Campaign's PAC) did go to court to request referendum 71 not be placed on the ballot because of evidence of fraud by the Reject 71 campaign. The King County Superior Court recognized our findings, but did not have the jurisdiction to prevent Referendum 71 from going to the ballot.
We appealed to Thurston County Superior Court. The judge acknowledged the evidence of fraud , but still allowed Referendum 71 to go to the ballot.
The Reject 71 campaign lead by Stephen Pigeon proceeded to go to court several more times throughout the campaign. The case Hutcherson referenced was about petition signatures. The Rejects wanted to keep their signatures anonymous. The State of Washington argued in favor of open government laws which have been on the books since the 1970s that require public petitions. The State further argued that the initiative and referendum processes allow citizens to serve as legislators so there is a public interest in transparency. The case will likely be heard by the United State Supreme Court.
Another case launched by the Rejects during the campaign, concerned campaign finance laws. Again, wishing to cloak themselves in anonymity, they wanted their contributor's name to be hiden from public view. They also wanted to remove campaign finance limits during the final week of the campaign. They lost their case.
None of Microsoft's money was used in any of the court cases. The Approve 71 campaign was represented pro-bono by Washington's best attorney's. They donated donated hundred of thousands of dollars worth of legal aid to Washington Families.
Microsoft's contribution did help fund vital outreach efforts that allowed us to communicate directly with Washington voters about our families and about the importance of the protections in the domestic partnership law.
Microsoft made a wise choice to invest in their employee's legal protection. As a state that protects all families under the law, Washington will continue to attract the best and brightest talent. Future and current LGBT employees will know their employer supports them, and in return they will be fiercely loyal to their employer.
Microsoft also benefited from hundreds of news reports and positive blog entries about their contribution. The earned media value easily surpassed their $100,000 investment. The positive press was coincidentally timed with the release of Windows 7.
Microsoft was a pioneer in their support for their LGBT employees, but they are no longer alone. Google, Yahoo, and Apple also support the LGBT community and their employees. Google endorsed the Approve 71 campaign and they opposed proposition 8. All three provide domestic partnership benefits and have comprehensive nondiscrimination policies.
Supporting the LGBT community and our goal for full equality under the law is good business. I'm happy to support those companies that support my family and so are millions of other Americans.