Brendan Eich steps down as Mozilla CEO after supporting gay marriage ban

39 Comments

After more than a week of controversy, which included boycotts from employees and websites like OKCupid, Mozilla announced Thursday afternoon that co-founder and CEO Brendan Eich has resigned.

Eich has been at the center of outrage stemming from a $1,000 donation he made in 2008 to support Prop 8, the California ban on gay marriage. While the donation initially surfaced back in 2012, Eich’s recent appointment to CEO in March 2014 reignited the concern over his beliefs — and calls to step down.

Eich repeatedly said that he would not step down — a sentiment he echoed in a blog post written about the issue — but it seems that the company has spoken. In addition to stepping down as CEO, Re/code reports that Eich has also resigned from the Mozilla Foundation Board.

Mozilla chairwoman Mitchell Baker said diversity is a priority at the company:

Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.

At this time, no decisions have been made on a replacement.

39 Comments

Brandon

I mean, if he said he believes women are inferior to men I’m sure he’d be forced to step down as well. Just because someone has a belief doesn’t mean we should entertain it. We have to be sensitive to people’s rights to free speech, but also be sensitive to which people are appropriate to publicly lead and guide an organization.

Synthdude

But when he’s forced to step down because he doesn’t agree with a particular viewpoint aren’t we just forcing him and the rest of us to “entertain” that viewpoint? This is why it’s dicey for corporations to take positions about moral issues, especially issues that are unrelated to the company’s business. Mozilla’s mission statement doesn’t say that it exists to advance the rights of gay people. They want to increase access to the WWW. That can be accomplished without taking any position whatsoever about gay rights issues.

Brandon

I agree with you, but at some point we have to have things that we’re willing to take a stand on. If I ran a company and I had a CEO who was publicly saying that he was against multiracial marriage and didn’t believe blacks and whites should have a right to marry each other…I would not be comfortable with him leading a company that will include many employees who are in multiracial relationships–or serving customers who are in multiracial relationships. In addition, I anticipate many of my customers and employees would feel offended and think that our company is run by individuals who actively work against their lifestyle and wellbeing.

Synthdude

Keep in mind that this is all based not on anything Eich said, but on a donation he made on his own time, with his own money. There doesn’t appear to be any evidence that he discriminated against anyone on the job. On the contrary, he made it clear he would abide by the law. If it’s okay to take away someone’s job under those circumstances then corporations just became the new thought police, and that’s scary.

M

Another victory for diversity–as long as it’s the right kind of diversity.

Synthdude

Mozilla’s response seems largely motivated by capitalism. The people on one side of this issue are organized, outspoken and prepared to take action to further their interest. A small dog who barks loudly enough can often get a bigger dog to run away from a fight.

JingoWrex

Getting sick and tired of the increasingly rabid and fascist left wing hand wringers.

People DO NOT HAVE to like gay marriage, you’re only turning off more people to your issue by insisting that everyone agree with it and embrace or…or be terminated.

Hu

I love how Mozilla is pushing the web in the right direction but I hate how they feel like they have to take a position on society topics. They said we welcome all views, ethninity, religion, etc… but by stating their position on same sex marriage they go against people who are not of the same view.
If you want to welcome everyone, you shut up on what may be point of divergence and you focus on what every mozillian is interested in as mozillian : open web, pushing standard, innovating, etc…

Chris

We should all be concerned when someone’s free speech is impeded because another group feels threatened by the content. What if the shoe were on the other foot? How would this article look had he had a different view on Prop 8? What happens when you have a differing opinion? Wouldn’t you want to express it without fear of losing your job? This article and Mozilla in general is forgetting that this is a larger issue that just Brendan’s view on Gay Marriage. It’s about his ability, and all of our right, to express our views as protected by the Freedom of Speech. It’s about being able to stand up for what we believe in without fear of retribution from the other side when they disagree. This country was founded on the belief that we should have healthy debate, argue over important topics. Not be cowed into believing them by the most vicious side. This isn’t about Gay Marriage, it’s about having the right to believe in something. That right should never go away, and those of you celebrating this decision should certainly evaluate your feelings when your rights to believe as you do are viewed the way that Brendan’s beliefs are today.

Stephen

“Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech” – what utter nonsense. By forcing Brendan Eich to resign, they have shown that they believe everyone should be forced to share their views on gay marriage. So there is neither equality nor freedom of speech. Conform or go seems to be their policy.

This is not even an equality issue, it’s an argument about what marriage is. Everyone is free to get married, as long as they’re old enough, but marriage can only be between a man and women. To argue against that is to argue against both nature and God.

I&D

Clearly people are inclusive only in one-way, the ‘other-way’ is not allowed.. strange

JRT

Complete BS. Free to express yourself as long as it falls in line with what everyone else thinks and if it doesnt we will offer you up as a sacrifical lamb. I really hope this backfires on Mozilla

Николай Станошек

Diversity of opinion is obviously not valued.

Josh

I’m disappointed by this decision. Apparently you can lose your job for holding the wrong political views around Mozilla. What a shame.

FBI

Yeah – diversity is important – especially if everyone who is diverse agrees with you

joe

Not one mention of whether this guy is the right guy to be CEO in terms of leadership, professionally, etc. in all I’ve read about this.

Also, if you require the CEO, board, etc. to hold your beliefs, you are not going to like what you find. Whatever side you are on.

BIG M

John Franson

Why–because the Wholly Babble says so?

Gay marriage is great. It’s the Bible that contains all manner of immoral beliefs and exhortations. It’s disgusting.

Synthdude

Just curious–how would you feel if your employer forced you to resign because you posted this comment?

tom

Mozilla may “[believe] both in equality and freedom of speech” and believe that “Equality is necessary for meaningful speech,” but these have big problems.

1) Nowhere in the constitution is equality mandated by the law. True, the Declaration of Independence [from England] does state “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” However, this is not the Constitution. This was a letter to the King of England, so read it in that context. But most importantly, being “created equal” is not the same thing as “being equal”. Being equal would imply that you are always equal for all eternity, but that is impractical. It is a truth that all people are distinct and different, and therefore we all have a right to have our own, individual and different views. Are we all created equal? Yes. And with those rights (life/liberty/pursuit of happiness) endowed by our Creator? Yes. Must we all remain equal? Absolutely not. And THIS is what makes the U.S. strong, and being able to express our differences is core to our freedom is speech, and the very reason why free speech was put in the Constitution. Mozilla obviously doesn’t understand this core concept, and should go back to the 6th grade.

2) Mozilla states “equality is necessary for meaningful speech?” On the contrary, it is our differences that make speech meaningful. Otherwise why would we even have the need for free speech expression if we were all equal? Again, Mozilla starkly misses the point and purpose of our free speech rights.

Finally, Mozilla states “you need free speech to fight for equality”. This, I do agree with. You do need free speech to fight for equality. Just like you also need free speech to fight for your own individual views and opinions. Just like Eich has. And if Mozilla forced his hand on his resignation, I would be fearful if I were Mozilla. Eich has free speech too, and that is written in the Constitution.

John Franson

Mozilla is a private company. The First Amendment applies only to government efforts to abridge speech.

Synthdude

Mozilla is however subject to anti-discrimination laws, and that’s how you make sure its employees, including the CEO, aren’t discriminating–not by preemptively taking away their jobs because they don’t agree with you on a point of morality.

Ryo

Already uninstalled all Mozilla products. Thunderbird and Firefox gone from my GNU+Linux.
Free speech for everyone!

mike

So how, exactly, is this free speech if Eich has been forced to step down for demonstrating his rights to free speech? If I were Mozilla, I would fear Eich coming back with attorneys saying that his “resignation” was forced upon him by Mozilla for exercising free speech. It goes both ways, and Mozilla appears to not be tolerant of Eich’s right to free speech. It one’s free speech offends another, that does not make it unconstitutional. On the contrary, that is the purpose of free speech, which allows us to freely and openly communicate our differences.

joe

52% of Californians agreed with this guy at the time of the election. This from one of the more liberal states.

RobPaulGru

Excellent point. This guy was unable to hold an opinion contrary to PC fascists. It is shocking that people can’t have their own opinions on any matter these days.

Scott Lewis

There is no point in having a democratic institution such as that employed in California to vote on propositions if people are “punished” for voting or supporting one side or the other.

This is, quite simply, a new form of McCarthyism.

It’s as though some odd form of unreason which originates in social media has replaced logic with “likes” and “dislikes”.

John Franson

This is pretty simple. Eich can say whatever he wants. Gay rights activists can too. They said they didn’t want a bigot leading them or representing their company. Eich, in the end, deferred to their views.

Scott Lewis

This situation has absolutely nothing to do with Gay Rights. Nothing at all. It is a question of whether someone should be “punished” for supporting a view which has been recognised by the US political system as being legitimate.

I am very much in favor of gun-control legislation. Does this move mean that I might be fired from my next job because my boss and fellow employees are pro-gun?

There are going to be repercussions from this that are unforeseeable.

Synthdude

Eich’s stated commitment to abide by anti-discrimination law and the lack of any evidence that he has in fact discriminated against anyone make the reference to him as a “bigot” erroneous, and, well, bigoted (that is, intolerant of others’ opinions).

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