Mozilla / Firefox hires anti-gay “Prop 8” supporter as new CEO

The Firefox Web browser is facing mounting criticism for hiring a new CEO, Brendan Eich, who donated $1,000 to the campaign to pass Proposition 8 in California.

Prop 8 was the Mormon-backed ballot measure that successfully eradicated the right of gay couples in California to marry in 2008.  A subsequent legal challenge finally struck down Prop 8 last summer, in 2013.

Eich, the creator of javascript, was chosen to be the new CEO of the Mozilla Foundation, a Google-funded organization that overseas a number of ventures, including the Firefox browser.

brendan-eich-prop-8

UPDATE: The man behind Uganda’s anti-gay pogrom, Martin Seempa, has just weighed in on behalf of Eich and Mozilla.  Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse for Firefox.  Ssempa, who is one of the architects of the country’s new “jail gays for life in prison” legislation believes that it is “heterophobic” to oppose anti-gay bigotry:

martin-ssempa-firefox-mozilla-eich

Mozilla, for its part, released a statement claiming that the organization, which is now run by an anti-gay activist, is “deeply committed to honoring diversity in sexual orientation and beliefs within our staff and community.”

Arstechnica reports that some are defending Eich’s appointment, ironically, in the name of diversity:

Brendan Eich, official Mozilla Foundation photo

Brendan Eich, official Mozilla Foundation photo, with a little artistic license from me.

Another Mozillian, W3C co-chair Daniel Glazman, offered support for Eich. Glazman attempted to divorce politics from the greater Mozilla mission: “We, as a community, cannot promote openness and freedom of choice without a deep respect for individual beliefs. A reminder of Brendan’s personal choices years ago is unfair and violates the core values of the Mozilla community.”

Oh, so you hired the gay-basher for freedom.

Just to get this straight, as it were, by choosing a new CEO who helped rip the hearts out of gay families across California, who stomped on their civil and human rights, Mozilla is actually “promoting freedom.”

Well, then why stop with an anti-gay bigot? Just imagine the freedom Mozilla could promote by hiring the Grand Wizard of the KKK.

Oh but that’s right, Mozilla would never hire an avowed racist or anti-Semite to head its foundation.  And no one would defend such a hire as promoting freedom.  But when it comes to bashing gays, suddenly the definition of freedom gets a wee bit murkier.

I also have a slight bone to pick with this notion that donating $1,000 to an anti-civil-rights campaign in 2008 is a “personal choice years ago.” No one is talking about the man getting a BJ in the bushes when he was 16.  Brendan Eich was 46(ish) years old when he decided to help repeal the civil rights of his fellow Americans.  Let’s not pretend that this was some youthful indiscretion.

When Eich’s Prop 8 donation first became known last year, he offered this hurt-puppy defense in a blog post with the Orwellian title “Community and Diversity”:

I’m not going to discuss Prop 8 here or on Twitter. There is no point in talking with the people who are baiting, ranting, and hurling four-letter abuse. Personal hatred conveyed through curse words is neither rational nor charitable, and strong feelings on any side of an issue do not justify it.

In contrast, people expressing non-abusive anger, sadness, or disagreement, I understand, grieve, and humbly accept.

No Hate

Ignoring the abusive comments, I’m left with charges that I hate and I’m a bigot, based solely on the donation. Now “hate” and “bigot” are well-defined words. I say these charges are false and unjust.

First, I have been online for almost 30 years. I’ve led an open source project for 14 years. I speak regularly at conferences around the world, and socialize with members of the Mozilla, JavaScript, and other web developer communities. I challenge anyone to cite an incident where I displayed hatred, or ever treated someone less than respectfully because of group affinity or individual identity.

Second, the donation does not in itself constitute evidence of animosity. Those asserting this are not providing a reasoned argument, rather they are labeling dissenters to cast them out of polite society. To such assertions, I can only respond: “no”.

I particularly like Eich’s invocation of the phrase “No Hate,” which just happens to be a well-known campaign against anti-gay intolerance. (I’d have gone with “No Homo.”)

brendan-eich-firefoxI suspect Eich is playing the “love the sinner, hate the sin” game here. Which makes me wonder what his true motivations really were. We know that a large number of Prop 8 supporters were Mormons, 50% in fact. So I’m just curious what prompted Eich to give $1,000 to a campaign to harm gay families.

Regardless, you just can’t support anti-gay ballot initiatives, that rip away the civil and human rights of gay families, and then claim that there’s no hate and no animosity.  I get that Mormons, for example, and the religious right, like to claim that they’re somehow helping gays by bashing gays, but no one outside of gay-bashers themselves buy that argument.

And I go back to my original point: I seriously doubt that Mozilla would have hired, let alone defended, a CEO who donated $1,000 to David Duke.


(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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