Mozilla, the developer of the Firefox web browser, appointed a new CEO to lead its corporate subsidiary last week — and the ensuing firestorm over the selection is threatening to engulf the organization.
He also happened to donate $1,000 of his own money five years ago in support of Proposition 8, the highly divisive ballot initiative that briefly banned same-sex marriage in California before eventually being ruled unconstitutional.
Supporters of gay rights celebrated outside the Supreme Court following the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act on June 26, 2013. On the same day, the court dismissed a case asking that a lower-court decision striking down the California marriage law be overturned. The ruling means same-sex marriages could resume in California. The video above shows California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom reacting to the ruling.
Since Eich’s appointment, a petition demanding that he recant his anti-gay marriage view, resign, or be replaced has gathered over 72,000 signatures. On Monday, OK Cupid users accessing the site via Firefox were greeted by a message that identified Eich as an opponent of equal rights for gay couples and urged them to use a different browser.
But the witch-hunt against Eich is wrong. If a woman were fired from, say, Target, because she was pro-choice, it would create a hell of an uproar. So why should Eich, who donated his own personal funds to a cause he believed in, be afforded any less in terms of civil liberties?
Eich’s politics on this issue are different from the conservatism of Hobby Lobby founder David Green, who is currently fighting in the Supreme Court for the right to not provide insurance coverage for emergency contraception and intra-uterine devices to his employees. Eich isn’t mandating that Mozilla, the company, adopt his political stance.
Mozilla didn’t make the donation — he did. The only reason we know that a Mozilla employee donated in support of Prop 8 is because California law requires political contributors donating above a certain amount to name their employer. Eich’s name was originally uncovered in California’s records two years ago. This is a re-run.
VICE News reviewed the list of California donors to Prop 8, both in support of and in opposition to the ban, and found that thousands of employees of large American companies donated to both sides of the issue.
A quick perusal of just the names that start with ‘A’ reveals donations in support of the gay marriage ban from employees of Google, Apple, Dreamworks, Kaiser Permanente, and Cisco Systems, among many others. Take a look at the list of donors opposing Prop 8, and you’ll find donors that also work for those companies.
Mozilla employees actually donated more to the opposition: the database reveals that Benjamin Turner, Jonathan DiCarlo, and Michael Melez gave a combined total of $1,350 to fight Prop 8. Eich was the only Mozilla employee that donated in support of the ban.
Perhaps we should ask Eich’s critics if they’ve ever attended the Coachella Music Festival, shopped at Urban Outfitters, or enjoyed a refreshing Coors Light.
It’s widely known in the LGBT community that the Coors family has funded anti-gay groups, but less familiar is the fact that Coachella’s parent company AEG is run by right-wing media mogul Philip Anschutz, who has donated to Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation, and the conservative Congressional Leadership Fund, among many other such entities.
Urban Outfitters president Richard Hayne donated money to Rick Santorum, and is suspected of being responsible for pulling a t-shirt from stores years ago because it had “I Support Same Sex Marriage” emblazoned on it.
In standing up for LGBT rights, OK Cupid should also encourage users to abandon Google’s Chrome browser. A quick employer search of donor records available on OpenSecrets.org reveals that last year Google employees donated private funds to conservative PACs like Reclaim America and Country First, as well as to politicians like South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who is vehemently opposed to gay marriage. Each of these donations amounted to more than the $1,000 that Eich contributed in 2008.
If Brendan Eich’s critics want to hold corporate employees and their employers accountable for every little private political contribution they make on their own time and with their own money, they’ve got a lot of work to do. Anything else would be hypocrisy.
Follow Mary Emily O’Hara on Twitter: @MaryEmilyOHara
Image via Flickr