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Thu, Jan 26, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Pastor urges stock dumping over firms' support of gay rights

AP , OLYMPIA, WASHINGTON

A pastor who threatened a national boycott against Microsoft and other major companies for supporting a gay civil rights bill is now urging people to buy up the companies' stock and dump it to drive prices down.

Reverend Ken Hutcherson, pastor of Antioch Bible Church in the Seattle suburb of Redmond, says he wants to use the stock market to make a political point.

But one market expert laughed at the idea.

"The chances of him being successful with that are slim to none," said Hans Olsen, chief investment officer at Bingham Legg Advisers.

Hutcherson told reporters last week he was calling for a boycott of the companies, but said on Tuesday that the stock-dumping plan, which calls on people to sell the companies' shares on May 1, had been his strategy all along.

"For me to ask people not to buy their product would be stupid," said Hutcherson, whose community is also home to the software company's headquarters. Instead, he wants his supporters to buy one or two shares over the next few months, and sell all of it on the same day.

Several companies, including Microsoft Corp, Boeing Co, Hewlett Packard Co and Nike Inc signed a letter earlier this month urging passage of the gay civil rights measure, which would add "sexual orientation" to a Washington state law that already bans discrimination based on race, gender, age, disability, religion, marital status and other factors.

Hewlett Packard and Boeing released statements on Tuesday reaffirming their support for the measure.

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