Conservative commentators and champions of free speech are speaking up after homosexual activists were successful in forcing the resignation of the CEO of Mozilla, the company which markets and maintains the popular Firefox web browser.
Brendan Eich, who co-founded Mozilla in the late 1990s and served as its chief technologist for several years, was named the company's CEO in March. But controversy erupted almost immediately when it was revealed that in 2008 Eich had donated $1,000 to California's Proposition 8, the grassroots initiative that led to a voter-approved state constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman.
According to the Guardian newspaper, in the early 1990s Eich also contributed $1,000 to the presidential campaign of Patrick Buchanan, and between 1996 and 1998 donated a total of $2,500 to Texas Congressman Ron Paul.
The news about Eich's personal opinions prompted a core of homosexual activists associated with Mozilla to demand that the company and foundation remove Eich because of his “hateful” attitude toward gays. Among those leading the attack was Hampton Catlin, a software developer who founded the tech firm Rarebit with his gay partner Michael Lintorn Catlin. Catlin was quoted by the Guardian as saying that as a “gay couple who were unable to get married in California until recently,” he and partner Michael refused to “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.”
While Eich expressed “sorrow” for causing pain over his support of traditional marriage, and insisted that he was committed “to fostering equality and welcome for LGBT individuals at Mozilla,” such rhetoric was insufficient to stem the tide of opinion against him. On April 3, Mozilla announced that “Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO. He’s made this decision for Mozilla and our community.”
Eich himself said that Mozilla's “mission is bigger than any one of us, and under the present circumstances, I cannot be an effective leader. I will be taking time before I decide what to do next.”
With an unintended bit of irony, Mozilla's announcement included an assurance that the company “believes both in equality and freedom of speech,” adding that its “organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness. We welcome contributions from everyone regardless of age, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, language, race, sexual orientation, geographical location and religious views. Mozilla supports equality for all.”
Homosexual activists and organizations were strangely silent at their victory for inclusivity and tolerance. However, a broad range of conservative commentators and champions of free speech offered their take on Eich's resignation. “The outrageous treatment of Eich is the result of one private, personal campaign contribution to support marriage as a male-female union, a view affirmed at the time by President Barack Obama, then-Sen. Hillary Clinton, and countless other prominent officials,” wrote Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation. “After all, Prop 8 passed with the support of 7 million California voters.”
Writing in the American Conservative, Rod Dreher challenged Mozilla's insistence that it “supports equality” across the board. “You don’t want contributions from anyone who doesn’t subscribe to gay-rights orthodoxy,” wrote Dreher. “You don’t care how they behave, or how they treat others. All you care about is what they think — or how they once thought, even after they have long since ceased being a threat to you and your political goals. You don’t want them in your workplace. No traditional Christians, Jews, or Muslims need apply — or if they do, they had better stay deeply closeted.”
Even openly homosexual commentator Andrew Sullivan found Mozilla's treatment of Eich despicable, writing that the “whole episode disgusts me — as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society. If this is the gay rights movement today — hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else — then count me out. If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us."