This week, activists sounded the alarm after it was discovered that Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, had donated $1,000 to the anti-gay, pro-discrimination Proposition 8 campaign. In the technology world, the values of equality are prized, and people both inside and outside the corporation openly questioned whether a person with discriminatory views would be capable of leading a diverse company like Mozilla. Eich has now stepped down, both from his CEO position and from the board of the nonprofit that owns Mozilla:
Brendan Eich, the well-known techie who has gotten swept up in a controversy about his support of California’s anti-gay marriage law Proposition 8, is resigning as CEO of for-profit Mozilla Corporation and also from the board of the nonprofit foundation which wholly owns it.
Mozilla confirmed the change in a blog post.
“Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves,” read the post, in part. “We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.”
In several interviews this week, Eich had insisted that he would not step down from the job he was only recently appointed to, due to the intense backlash over a $1,000 donation he made in 2008 in support of the ballot measure to ban gay marriage.
“So I don’t want to talk about my personal beliefs because I kept them out of Mozilla all these 15 years we’ve been going,” he said to the Guardian, for example, yesterday. “I don’t believe they’re relevant.”
Not so, of course. In an interview this morning, Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker said that Eich’s ability to lead the company that makes the Firefox Web browser had been badly damaged by the continued scrutiny over the hot-button issue, which had actually been known since 2012 inside the Mozilla community.
“It’s clear that Brendan cannot lead Mozilla in this setting,” said Baker, who added that she would not and could not speak for Eich. “The ability to lead — particularly for the CEO — is fundamental to the role and that is not possible here.”
The article goes on to note that many of the protests came from Mozilla staffers themselves. Additionally, OKCupid encouraged its subscribers not to use Firefox, Mozilla’s popular browser, citing their belief in full equality.
Eich’s media statements do indeed suggest that he still holds very backwards beliefs, and that because nations like Indonesia don’t like marriage equality, the idea isn’t “global”:
He also dragged in a truly bizarre point about people in Indonesia not liking gays marrying to justify his continued leadership. He noted to the newspaper that LGBT marriage was “not considered universal human rights yet, and maybe they will be, but that’s in the future, right now we’re in a world where we have to be global to have effect.”
The Religious Right will undoubtedly try to make Eich a martyr and claim that he was “bullied” for exercising his “religious freedom,” but the reality is that this is just the free market (which the Right claims to love) doing its job. Regular American people don’t want to be associated with anti-gay discrimination and hatred, and they made that well known in speaking out to those in control at Mozilla.
Click over and read Mozilla’s full statement.