Mozilla Boss Faces Heat over Opposition to Gay Marriage

by Matt Klassen on April 3, 2014

Newly appointed Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich knew there would be challenges and hurdles he would face as he attempted to lead the non-profit tech firm into the future, what he likely didn’t know is that most of the vehement opposition he would face early in his tenure would have nothing to do with technology.

As I noted earlier in the week, Eich has come under fire for a $1,000 donation he made to Proposition 8, a ban on gay marriage in California, back in 2008, which was subsequently uncovered through access to public records in 2012. The donation has become a rallying point not only for Eich’s critics, but for many in the LGBT community as well, with more than 70,000 people signing a petition to date calling for Eich’s resignation unless he unequivocally supports equal marriage rights.

While I couldn’t disagree more with Eich’s position on gay marriage I consider this to be unwarranted character assassination, particularly since his political stance on this contentious and thorny civic issue in no way impacts his ability to lead Mozilla into the future. In a society that is pushing for inclusiveness and embraces difference, the stark reality is that we need to make room for those who hold positions we might not like and find ways to work together to build a better world…and a better Mozilla.

In his first interview on this subject Eich drove home the point that at its core Mozilla is a company that embraces inclusiveness, “not just of gay-marriage supporters but also of people like him or gay-marriage opponents in Indonesia who also are part of the Mozilla cause.”

While I may not agree with Eich’s stance, I couldn’t agree more with his assessment of what inclusiveness truly looks like, particularly over social issues such a gay marriage. Whether or not you agree with Prop 8 or fight against it tooth and nail, when you work at Mozilla you check those beliefs at the door. Mozilla employees don’t have to agree with each other, heck they don’t even have to like each other, but they do need to respect each other and work together towards the betterment of the company, and that’s a corporate philosophy that I think deserves our support.

I would guess that the vocal group calling for Eichs’ resignation would agree that inclusiveness is a worthy goal to pursue, but the fact is a call for homogeneity among our beliefs only makes the concomitant push for inclusiveness moot, there’s no need to work towards understanding and acceptance if we’ve checked diversity at the door.

Now you may not like Eich for the fact that he contributed money to a cause opposing the legalization of gay marriage, but to use this dislike for his position on a contentious issue as the foundation for portraying him as a bigot, unfit for corporate leadership, is cantilevering one’s argument over the abyss of the absurd.

If we want inclusiveness, lets be inclusive, and lets assume (until we know otherwise) that Eich’s support for Proposition 8 is based on his own sound reasoning and personal convictions– not the fear, hatred, discrimination and homophobia we’re all so quick to assume–and while we may disagree with his reasons, perhaps lets commend him for taking a personal stand on something, particularly in a society where fence-sitting and uncritical acceptance has become the order of the day.

Further, consider that if Mozilla, or Apple, or Google, or any other tech company operating in America systematically eliminated anyone that held views we consider unpopular here at home, well you’d not only see the collapse of those companies’ entire supply chains abroad, you’d see a lot of empty offices here domestically as well. So if we’re calling for Eich’s head based on his unpopular personal beliefs, let’s at least be consistent.

In the end, if Eich is a bigoted hateful person (and he might be), his political and cultural stance on a controversial issue like Proposition 8 certainly isn’t enough to draw such a conclusion, and the vocal group calling for his resignation should be ashamed, not for voicing their opposition, but for using such shoddy argumentation in this attempted character assassination.

As Evelyn Beatrice Hall famously wrote, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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