Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, gave $1,000 to Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure passed by a majority of California voters to limit marriage to one man and one woman. The U.S. Supreme Court voided the measure, but the hate campaign against its supporters lives on.
There’s a Twitter campaign to force Eich to step down. “I’m an employee of @mozilla and I’m asking @brendaneich to step down as CEO,” one employee tweeted. Rarebit CEO Hampton Catlin and his husband announced a boycott against Mozilla Firefox applications. It will cost the business money, but, Catlin wrote, “as a gay couple who were unable to get married in California until recently,” they “morally cannot support a Foundation that would not only leave someone with hateful views in power, but will give them a promotion and put them in charge of the entire organization.”
More than 70,000 have signed a petition asking Eich to resign unless he renounces his former position. The message is clear: If you supported Prop 8, its opponents will go after you. Well, not everyone. That would be too messy and produce too many victims. So Prop 8 opponents will selectively target the occasional high-profile donor until he buckles or busts.
Eich has chosen to walk a tightrope. He told CNET’s Stephen Shankland that when gay friends learned of his donation, he saw pain in their eyes, and he’s “sorry for causing that pain.” A Mozilla blog emphasized the corporation’s belief in “equality and inclusion for LGBT people.”
But Eich did not apologize for the donation. “I don’t think it’s good for my integrity or Mozilla’s integrity to be pressured into changing a position,” he told CNET. Making people pass a litmus test goes against Mozilla’s quest for true diversity.
Eich wasn’t a prominent pusher of Prop 8. He didn’t mix his politics with business, in which case critics would have grounds to cite the nexus between Eich’s personal beliefs and his corporate success. He wrote a personal check for $1,000. In tech circles, that’s snack money.
Doesn’t matter. Catlin wrote that Rarebit is boycotting Firefox because he and his husband “are personally affected” by Eich’s actions. That’s bunk. The courts upended Prop 8. Same-sex couples won.
Sadly, winning has made some advocates, like the Catlins, less tolerant, not more so. It’s not enough that they won; they have to make opponents grovel in penance. No need for stockades in 2014 when you can dangle stock options and flame nonbelievers via Twitter.
It’s like political time travel. Advocates demand that public figures renounce their 2008 opposition to same-sex marriage as illegitimate. If Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton could do it, surely soulless CEOs can do it, too.
Let me posit that there were some anti-gay bigots who supported Prop 8. But there also were a lot of Californians who wrestled with the issue but chose to stick with a more traditional conclusion. A yes vote didn’t mean they hate their gay friends and family members.
So now the Internet has a sign that warns: If you don’t support same-sex marriage, get out of the sandbox. If they beat Eich, the fear will spread, and the next dissenter will submit quickly. All hail tolerance and diversity.