Following his appointment just over a week ago, Mozilla Chief Executive Officer Brendan Eich has stepped down after controversies emerged over his financial support of anti-gay marriage bill Proposition 8 in California. The move comes after popular internet dating service OkCupid discouraged its users from accessing the website through Mozilla browser Firefox due to Eich’s stance. In 2008, Eich donated $1000 to a lobby group who supported Proposition 8, a Californian bill which sought to remove the rights of same sex couples to marry; a bill which has since been squashed by the supreme courts.
With the tech industry being largely left leaning, Eich’s views came as somewhat of a shock to Mozilla board members. But his appointment to CEO still went ahead regardless; seemingly unaware of the increased scrutiny personal views like these receive once an individual is elevated to a figurehead position. Mozilla released a statement over Eich’s “stepping down” (read: they probably told him to hit the bricks) which contained a swathe of “we really should have seen this coming” statements, such as “Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves,” and “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.”
Eich, for his part, expressed how his skewed personal beliefs fitted in with Mozilla’s vocally pro-LGBTI rights stance in The Guardian earlier this week, stringing the following bunch of words together, “So far we’ve been able to bring people together of diverse beliefs including on things like marriage equality. We couldn’t have done this, we couldn’t have done Firefox One. I would’ve been excluded, someone else would’ve been excluded because of me – I wouldn’t have done that personally, they’d have just left. So imagine a world without Firefox: not good.” He then continued down the path to Batshit Crazyland, dragging Indonesia’s cultural views on the issue into the mix as an example of why he should remain in charge, “(LGBT marriage is) not considered universal human rights yet, and maybe they will be, but that’s in the future, right now we’re in a world where we have to be global to have effect.” Riiiiiiiighto.
Moral relativism might help Eich sleep at night, but for a company that’s already put its foot down on the issue, it’s an untenable position. Thus, he’s gone. And fair enough too.
Photo: Josep Lago via Getty Images.