OLYMPIA, Wash. – A pastor on Monday called for a national boycott of Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and other companies that support a gay civil rights bill, saying the corporations have underestimated the power of religious consumers.
The Rev. Ken Hutcherson, pastor of Antioch Bible Church in the Seattle suburb of Redmond, said he would formally issue the boycott Thursday on the conservative radio show Focus on the Family.
"We're tired of sitting around thinking that morals can be ignored in our country," he said. "This is not a threat, this is a promise. Check out the past presidential election. We made the moral issue the No. 1 issue."
Last week, several companies, including Palo Alto, Calif.-based Hewlett Packard Co., Microsoft Corp., Boeing Co., and Nike Inc. signed a letter urging passage of the measure, which would add "sexual orientation" to a Washington state law that already bans discrimination in housing, employment and insurance based on race, gender, age, disability, religion, marital status and other factors.
Microsoft is restoring its support for the proposal a year after the company was denounced for quietly dropping its endorsement.
Hutcherson, who has organized anti-gay-marriage rallies in Seattle and Washington, D.C., says he pressured Microsoft into dropping its support for the bill last year by threatening a boycott.
The company, which was criticized by gay activists across the country, insisted it took a neutral stance to focus on other issues but later said it would support the measure in the future.
Asked about the boycott Monday, Microsoft spokesman Lou Gellos said the company would not change its position. He declined to comment further.
Boeing spokesman Peter Conte said the company had no plans to withdraw its support for the legislation.
"The position that we have taken is one that we do feel strongly about," he said. "It is entirely consistent with our own internal practices and policies."
Other companies did not return phone calls on Monday.
The bill has been introduced — and rejected — annually for nearly 30 years in the Legislature.
The state House last year passed the bill 61-37. But it lost by one vote in the Senate. The measure is believed to have a better chance of passage this year because a Republican senator has announced he would switch his vote to yes.