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Eich Resignation Sparks Freedom of Beliefs Debate

Photo by Jonas Strandell — Brendan Eich presents his keynote: Grown-up Javascript in this 2010 photo.

Brendan Eich’s voluntarily resignation as CEO of Mozilla has turned into a debate on the right to freedom of thought and speech.

Conservatives are accusing liberals of trampling Eich’s right to support the traditional view of marriage, while some liberals are arguing the beliefs of a person in a position of power are a reflection on his or her company.

Eich, who was recently appointed CEO of the Firefox maker, supported the passage of California’s Proposition 8, a state-wide initiative to ban gay marriage, with a $1,000 donation in 2008. That six-year-old action led to many gay rights activists and liberals demanding Eich resign his position, despite his assurances that his personal beliefs were kept separate from his professional life. He also promised to foster an atmosphere of inclusiveness for all at Mozilla regardless of sexual orientation, race or beliefs.

Eich’s assurances, however, did little to pacify his critics and the co-founder of Mozilla finally threw in the towel.

Here’s a look at what is being said about the latest scandal across the Net:

Katrina Trinko, a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributor

In California, it was not some small, bigoted population that voted for Proposition 8, but a diverse coalition. According to exit polls, seven out of ten African-American voters backed Prop 8, as did over half of Latino voters.

And now, just six years later, supporting Proposition 8 is a position deemed by some to be so extreme that a company apparently felt they could not justify having a CEO who believed that.

Regardless of your views on same-sex marriage, is that the culture you want, one where those who disagree that marriage should be redefined feel they cannot vote or speak according to their beliefs, where they are societal outcasts because of this one position?

Blogger and author Andrew Sullivan (who is openly gay)

Will he now be forced to walk through the streets in shame? Why not the stocks? 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.

Venture Beat columnist Dylan Tweney

Politically speaking, the supporters of same-sex marriage would do far better to target the really big, and often anonymous, donors who have supported and pushed laws like Prop. 8, rather than vilifying the occasional small supporter. Going after people like Eich makes the same-sex marriage movement look petty, vindictive, and shrill — the exact opposite of the inclusive, tolerant message that they should be spreading.

Credo Action 

This is an important moment for the Mozilla community and a critical development in our ongoing fight for equality and the open Web. No doubt Mozilla will be viciously attacked by the rightwing for taking this courageous stand.

Princeton University professor Robert P. George 

Now that the bullies have Eich’s head as a trophy on their wall, they will put the heat on every other corporation and major employer. They will pressure them to refuse employment to those who decline to conform their views to the new orthodoxy. And you can also bet that it won’t end with same-sex marriage. Next, it will be support for the pro-life cause that will be treated as moral turpitude in the same way that support for marriage is treated. Do you believe in protecting unborn babies from being slain in the womb? Why, then: “You are a misogynist. You are a hater of women. You are a bigot. We can’t have a person like you working for our company.” And there will be other political and moral issues, too, that will be treated as litmus tests for eligibility for employment. The defenestration of Eich by people at Mozilla for dissenting from the new orthodoxy on marriage is just the beginning.

Deseret News

No one has accused Eich of practicing any sort of discrimination against gay people, nor has he been a vocal opponent of gay marriage in his capacity as CEO. His only “crime,” apparently, was to exercise his legal right to participate in California’s democratic processes in support of a traditional policy viewpoint that captured a majority of voters. Not insignificantly, then-candidate Barack Obama held the same position at the time.

That he could lose his job for such a thing is not only shameful, it’s an affront to basic American principles.

It also sends a chilling message to anyone else who might hold opinions that don’t conform to a politically correct creed of conformity. Change your views or your life will be ruined. Joseph McCarthy would be proud.

Mozilla’s apology is really strong, and they’ve done the right thing in standing up for their LGBT employees and the community at large.

EqualityOnTrial has taken down the pop-up request urging our readers to switch browsers. We wanted to take a stand on this issue because the blog owes its existence to a community that was deeply hurt by the campaign to pass Prop 8, and by the trial that came after. Mozilla’s latest actions show they’re willing to listen to the LGBT community’s concerns.

Todd Starnes, Fox News 

As we enter this golden age of tolerance and diversity, the nation’s gay rights community is sending a warning message to Americans: If you don’t support gay marriage, you don’t deserve a job. Apparently, Brendan Eich did not get that message.

What do you think? Was Eich treated unfairly or was his resignation the best solution?

About the author


Jennifer Cowan

Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.