News & Politics

Mozilla Under Fire For Appointing Anti-Gay CEO As Prop 8 Donations Surface

Activists are calling upon Brendan Eich to reverse his anti-gay stance, resign or be replaced in an online petition.

LGBT rights advocates are up in arms over the Mozilla's decision to appoint co-founder Brendan Eich as CEO, after his history of personal donations toward the discriminatory anti-gay California ballot initiative, Proposition 8, re-emerged. Mozilla is a non-profit organization that supports open source software and produces the popular Firefox web browser. 

Eich first became embroiled in the controversy in 2012 when it came to light that he donated $1000 to Proposition 8 aimed at banning gay marriage. The measure, backed by the Mormon Church and right-wing anti-gay groups was approved by voters that year but subsequently overturned by the Supreme Court in 2013.

Given the company’s long-standing commitment to support openness and equality, Eich’s recent appointment as CEO came as a slap in the face for the LGBT community and angered Mozilla employees who tweeted that the former Chief Technology Officer should step down as CEO.  The Wall Street Journal also reported that three Mozilla board members had resigned in the wake of Eich’s selection.

In response to the controversial appointment, Credo Action started an online petition calling upon Eich to reverse his anti-gay stance, resign or be replaced.  Already, it has generated close to 63,000 signatures and offers a stern message:

“Tell Mozilla: Your brand should be identified with openness and equality -- not anti-gay hate…As the representative of a global brand that represents openness and is committed to equality and inclusiveness, Eich should make an unequivocal statement of support for marriage equality. If he cannot, he should resign. And if he will not, the board should fire Eich immediately."

Credo Action says that Mozilla’s decision to endorse Eich with his public history of anti-gay sponsorship is a “forceful gesture” which promotes an advocate of discrimination to the head of a global brand.

“There is not simply a public disagreement about an individual's personal beliefs, but rather a serious crisis involving a powerful global organization and a leader with a history of explicit advocacy to deny gays and lesbians equal rights under law,” the social change organization declared in a press release.

Other LGBT supporters, including openly gay Rarebit CEO and Wikipedia Mobile creator Hampton Catlin, have advocated for a boycott of its Firefox browsers. Catlin wrote on his blog that he and his husband would no longer support Mozilla after the appointment, Huff Post reported.

"As a gay couple who were unable to get married in California until recently, we 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.  By the very bones in our body, we cannot dare use our creativity, experience, knowledge, and passion to further the career of a man who has to this day not apologized for his support,” Catlin wrote.

Consequently, Eich responded to the criticism on his blog, but did not directly apologize for the donations nor confirm his personal position on gay rights.

“I know there are concerns about my commitment to fostering equality and welcome for LGBT individuals at Mozilla,” he wrote, “I can only ask for your support to have the time to 'show, not tell'; and in the meantime express my sorrow at having caused pain ... I am committed to ensuring that Mozilla is, and will remain, a place that includes and supports everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, economic status, or religion."

Still, Credo Action says Eich’s statement fell short of addressing his anti-gay advocacy efforts and that he must make an explicit public statement in support of marriage equality not just for Mozilla but for all Americans.

“It’s not enough for Eich to pledge that he will enforce Mozilla's strong internal policies that ensure all employees are treated equal when he continues to refuse to renounce his advocacy for legislating hateful discrimination against gays and lesbians with constitutional amendments such as Proposition 8,” the petition stressed.

Tech groups say the gay-led boycott could hurt the company who is already rumored to be suffering financially from a decline in popularity of its web browser Firefox.  While in 2009, it was second most popular after Internet Explorer, Firefox fell to last place in September 2013, taken over by Safari and Chrome.

Faced with increasing mounting pressure, Mozilla has been forced to come to Eichs’ defense releasing a statement that Mozilla is “deeply committed to honoring diversity in sexual orientation and beliefs within our staff and community.”

In recent times, national polls show a major shift in American perception on the issue of equality.  17 U.S. states now allow gay marriage and public support is at an all time high with more than half the population in favor of same-sex unions. 

Sign the Credo Action petition here.


Jodie Gummow is a senior fellow and staff writer at AlterNet.


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