Mozilla Firefox CEO Resigns Over Gay Marriage

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UPDATE — A Mozilla spokesperson contacted the Guardian Liberty Voice today to make a clarification on some of the statements in this article.

“The three board members ended their terms before Brendan was publicly announced as CEO for a variety of reasons. Two had been planning to leave for some time, one since January and one explicitly at the end of the CEO search, regardless of the person selected.”

The original article did not make clear the fact that some of these members had reasons for leaving other than the CEO choice of Brendan Eich.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE — If anyone thought that Silicon Valley and the rest of the tech industry does not have a conscience, a story has arisen that will change that idea. One of the most popular web browsers, Mozilla Firefox, appointed its new CEO just about a week ago and he has just as quickly resigned over his opposition to gay marriage. Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich made a $1000 contribution to support a ban on gay marriage in California back in 2008 and that decision has come back to haunt him as employees and the public voiced their disapproval.

Brendan Eich is a programmer known for creating the important programming language Javascript, so he was a natural pick to be the popular browser’s new chief executive officer. But in Silicon Valley, a mostly liberal place with strong ties to supporting LGBT equality, his opposition to gay marriage was a glaring problem. Employees started to voice their disapproval, swiftly followed by Twitter.

Nevertheless, Eich promised that he would be fair and open with employees and that he would keep his personal beliefs separate from his business practice. He promised to be fair to everyone, regardless of age, sex, orientation, gender identity, religious belief, ethnicity, or race. Despite the long list of inclusive rhetorical buzzwords, no one was really convinced.

mozilla firefoxThree members of the board of directors resigned over the choice to appoint Eich as CEO and the resulting uproar was enough to force his resignation. Besides employees of Mozilla Firefox and Twitter users, OKCupid also expressed their opposition to Eich by asking users of their site who logged in using Firefox to please use another browser. That was big news that could not be ignored. Eich’s personal views on gay marriage made him unfit to be CEO because it would cost the corporation money if users started deserting the browser en masse.

The new Mozilla Firefox CEO subsequently resigned after his views on gay marriage became a problem for the company. He, nevertheless, believes that his opinion on gay marriage was not relevant to running a tech company. People are beginning to wonder whether he is right and whether it is okay to let gay marriage opinions affect a person’s business career.

Opinions are no doubt split on that topic. Some people will argue that holding negative views on LGBT equality will affect how they approach LGBT employees and other issues surround workplace equality. A CEO opposed to gay marriage could possibly affect what benefits his company gives to LGBT employees and their significant others. That is certainly a worry when it comes to people like Brendan Eich who hold top level management positions.

There are others, however, who worry that supporters of LGBT equality are becoming just as exclusionist as opponents used to be. One writer pointed out that less than ten years ago, opposition like Eich’s was the norm in California and it is only recently that support for LGBT equality has become the rule. The worry is that now that LGBT supporters are the majority, they will become as intolerant of dissent as the new minority used to be.

That debate, however, is largely irrelevant when all the facts are taken in to account. Brendan Eich was asked to resign not necessarily because he opposed gay marriage, but because his appointment created unrest in the company and not just among employees. Having three members of the board resign over an appointment is not a good thing. Moreover, Eich’s handling of the situation with his employees showed a serious lack of leadership. His statement regarding fairness and openness was a show of those virtues, but he failed to make his employees actually feel heard or protected. His assurances of treating everyone equitably regardless of their status obviously did not make anyone feel assured.

The executive chairwoman for Mozilla, Mitchell Baker, criticized the company’s slow response to the situation. She emphasized the company’s desire to interact with users and the public in order to remain a strong company. According to her, this debacle has been a learning experience that will not be forgotten and will, in fact, serve to make Mozilla a better company overall. She did not, however, announce who the board will be naming the next CEO.

While the issue that created this situation was gay marriage, the deciding factor in Eich’s resignation was his leadership, not his political views. When faced with a situation regarding his employees, he failed to handle the situation effectively. When the situation escalated to include the public, he similarly failed. Corporations without good leading management are not corporations that do well. Thus, the Mozilla Firefox CEO did not just resign over gay marriage; he resigned over his stunning lack of leadership.

Opinion by Lydia Webb

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10 Responses to "Mozilla Firefox CEO Resigns Over Gay Marriage"

  1. ml   April 7, 2014 at 9:55 am

    I do not understand why the CEO, Mr. Eich had to resign for his own personal beliefs. I thot liberals believed in “tolerance”. I guess it must be the left’s “tolerance” that they were talking about! As long as you believe their way then all is well; however if another just as valid set of beliefs raises its head, it must be blood-gunned to ridicule and demands of resignation, if not more. Some in this country believe that homosexuality is immoral. Some believe that it is a life style by their own choosing and therefore it becomes an immoral choice. Interesting that it has no longer become a nation that has two opposing views, where you take your view and I take my view and we will see which view triumphs through truth. No, today it is no, you are wrong to even have that view and we will do every thing we can to destroy you and your belief system! Liberals ideas would never stand up under the life of total scrutiny. It has to devour the one who inspects the lib’s ideas so we can’t get to their “truth”. Truth, given time, will prevail!


    • Eric   April 7, 2014 at 2:18 pm

      Eich had to go because his position would have let him unfairly discriminate against people….just because”some people” believe something doesn’t make it moral. I do not subscribe to your Christian morals. Do not, and will not. My personal moral coffee tells me to speak against injustice.
      As far as tolerance…I tolerate your opinion. I support your right to voice your opinion. I reserve the right to disagree with your opinion, and I believe I have the moral duty to make sure that your discriminatory opinion is not codified into unjust laws.

  2. Eric   April 6, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    M.lindy: you are not literate enough to rate a reply
    Robert: I’d suggest you look up the words “tolerant”and”bigot”. One is a bigot if they seek to deny a group of people any benefit simply because one does not approve of that group. A truly “moral” person always opposes a bigot.
    Ted: do you not see that as CEO of a company, one has a large amount of power over issues that affect all employees? Is it then a good business decision to appoint a CEO that has demonstrated by his actions that he is likely to discriminate against certain employees? And furthermore, morality is not a basis for laws. morality is based on religion. Religion is used as basis for law only in a theocracy.
    Jerlder:different situation. A politician is expected to promote the views of his our her constituents. A CEO is expected to treat employees fairly.
    Adam makes a good point. If a CEO discriminated on basis of race, no one would be making the argument that it was freedom of speech…

  3. Robert   April 4, 2014 at 9:03 am

    The LGBT community boasts about equality, tolerance and diversity when they are the ones who are intolerant of diversity. Just because someone opposes gay marriage, you label that person as an enemy and use the media to sway the populace against that person. You will destroy that person’s life just for the sake of an opposing opinion. It is YOU who have become the enemy. It is YOU who are intolerant. It is YOU.

    Homosexual marriage: You can make it legal but you will NEVER make it morally right!

    • Rob   April 4, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      The problem with Eich is not that he thinks Gay marriage is wrong, but that he funded a campaign to deny to people a right that they already had. This has never been done before in the U.S. What other right do you think should be taken away, and from whom?

  4. Adam W.   April 4, 2014 at 7:54 am

    None has to support Equality for the gay community, but soon as you DAMAGE with your actions, a community that struggles for equality, that is a different thing. –What if a CEO of a major Company would donate $1000 to KKK organization or any other hate groups that hate Blacks or Jews? It would be 10x the scandal and he/she would never last. Why? We are civilized and EVOLVED especially educated people. Same thing with the Gay community, It is known through science being gay in NOT a choice, it is innate, Same with being Black or a Jew or left handed. Why ostracize gay people especially the LAW is clear: Not constitutional to discriminate against gay people. Religion is a choice. Hate is a choice. Mr. Eich chose the wrong side of humanity. Now he is paying for it.

  5. jeraldr   April 4, 2014 at 7:47 am

    I’ll be waiting for the same groups to call for President Obama to resign. He held the very same opinion at the very same time this man did.

    • Adam W.   April 4, 2014 at 7:57 am

      No, Mr. Obama is supportive of all people and equality. He is hated because he is Black, now, that is not a very nice thing, is it?

  6. Ted Wolk   April 4, 2014 at 6:28 am

    America the land of freedom and free speech. Because an individual leader, with great management skills, voice’s his personal feelings about his moral beliefs, which in this case is a morally correct call, they are put down. In other words, you are to run a company based on other peoples beliefs and not your management skills. Just as bad as people who own their own business can not decide who or who they don’t want to do business with. We are no longer a country with morality, just a bunch of fools, led by the prince of fools. Pretty soon we will all be saying “Heil Obama”

    • Adam W.   April 4, 2014 at 8:00 am

      Not HATE speech. How do you know he has GREAT management skills? Beside, a good businessman is careful about his opinions and donations to hate groups. Religion is a choice, hate is a choice, being gay, black or woman/man is NOT a choice.


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