Barney Frank says Microsoft explanation "implausible"
Openly gay U.S. representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts weighed in on the growing Microsoft controversy Tuesday with a letter to heads of the technology giant, saying he doesn't buy the company's explanation for withdrawing its support from a piece of gay rights legislation in Washington State. Frank expressed his disbelief that the company, which has a track record of gay-friendly policies, could not muster enough resources to write a statement of support for the nondiscrimination bill, which failed in the state senate by one vote last week. In the letter Frank said, "It is generally my experience that when highly intelligent people such as yourself say things which are quite implausible, some other reason must be involved." State representative Ed Murray, the bill's prime sponsor, contended that the company caved in to pressure from Ken Hutcherson, a local conservative Christian pastor. Microsoft denies that claim even after it came to light this week that it is paying former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed $20,000 a month for international trade and competition consulting services. Even Hutcherson said the company is lying and that his threat of a national boycott forced Microsoft to change its position. Frank's letter reminded Microsoft of his previous support of many of the company's "legitimate" public policy goals. And he informed the company's lawyer, Bradford L. Smith, that because of the demands on his time, dealing with Microsoft officials and representatives will now be of a "much lower priority." "Like everyone else in public life, I have many demands on my time, and I can satisfy only some of them," Frank said. (Sirius OutQ)