Gay Rights Bully as Victim?

gay rightsIn a twist of logic, anti-gay proponents now say they are the victim of gay rights advocates. Brendan Eich was the recently hired CEO of Mozilla Corp. In 2008 he had given a $1,000 donation in support of the California ballot measure to ban gay marriage. Due to pressure from the gay community, and despite his protests, he resigned from his position as CEO as quickly as he had come into it. Is he a victim of his circumstances, shamed into resignation in a land of free speech? Or, is he the architect of his own demise, caused by overstepping his bounds as CEO and out of step with the forward-thinking company? In other words, is he a victim or a bully?

In 2008 the highly contentious California ballot measure to ban gay marriage which had been declared legal by the State Supreme Court five months earlier was then retracted. Same-sex couples got married and then were put into limbo. The ballot measure was eventually repealed five years later, after much legal back and forth, and gay couples in California are now able to marry.

Mozilla is a company that morphed from Netscape Navigator, originally Mosaic, which was created in 1994 in Silicon Valley, California. Mosaic was the first web browser to make it big outside of academia. The name Mozilla is a combination of Mosaic and Godzilla, a hearkening back to its origin.

Brendan Eich, an American-born programmer and creator of the JavaScript scripting language, was one of the co-founders of Mozilla after it had changed from Netscape in 1988. While he was the Chief Architect of Mozilla, he held the position of Chief Technology Officer and CEO for a very brief one month period, culminating in April 2014.

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OKCupid blocked access to its website to anyone who tried to enter using the browser Mozilla Firefox.

Some say it was Eich’s association with the 2008 anti-gay marriage legislation cause, combined with public outrage, that caused his ruin, and that he is no victim. To emphasize the point, three Mozilla board members resigned from the company in protest of Eich’s actions. In addition, the online dating service OKCupid encouraged its users to stand up against Eich. They blocked access to its website to anyone who tried to enter using the browser Mozilla Firefox. Their actions inferred Eich’s behavior as bullying gay rights advocates.

Mozilla issued an apology, saying that their CEO’s actions were counter to public opinion, and that they were not on the front line of defense once the 2008 donation was made known. Meanwhile, Eich initially refused to resign because he said that his personal opinion was not relevant to his position as CEO. He eventually complied to public pressure and submitted his resignation.

At the heart of the issue is publicity by a gay journalist, Andrew Sullivan, who says he is disgusted by the gay rights activists. Sullivan says the activists are partially responsible for the Mozilla CEO’s resignation, calling them calls fanatics. What’s unusual about Sullivan’s proclamation is his own history. As the former editor at The Atlantic and The New Republic, Sullivan is the author of the first piece advocating for gay marriage back in 1989, which is considered to be the blueprint for gay marriage laws and the normalization of homosexuality in America.

Even though Sullivan is considered to be the intellectual father of the gay marriage movement, he now says that the U.S. has a “tendency to view virtually everything through a ‘gay’ prism. Sullivan warns that the gay rights movement is quickly becoming “no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before [them].”

Was Eich simply exercising his freedom of expression, and public opinion caused him to be victimized? Or, was his behavior tantamount to bullying gay rights advocates over same-sex marriage? The jury is still out, with both sides strongly voicing their opinion.

By Fern Remedi-Brown

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