In 2008 Brendan Eich, co-founder of Mozilla, contributed $1000 to support the gay-marriage ban in California, known as Proposition 8. For that, six years later, he lost his job as the new CEO of Mozilla. Eich stepped down after the online dating service, OkCupid, launched a boycott of Firefox for users of their website. The incident highlights what happens when one’s right to free speech cancels out someone else’s right to hold a different view. On April 4, Martha Mendoza of the Associated Press wrote, “Mozilla CEO resignation raises free-speech issues.”
Brendan Eich joins the noble ranks of numerous leaders who have been punished (some say persecuted) for expressing a personal view about gay marriage. This includes Dr. Laura for saying that homosexuality is a “biologic error,” Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy for saying it invites God’s judgment, Barzilla Pasta Company who will not feature gay couples in its ads, and the Boy Scouts of America.
OkCupid has been praised for its “principled business stand [which] is making a real difference in the world.” Why couldn’t Brendan Eich take a “principled business stand” without being censured (read: judged) and attacked for it? Americans are supposed to be inclusive and to value diversity, but evidently this does not include diverse viewpoints.
It seems that supporters of traditional marriage have become targets for those who refuse to tolerate that view. Such intolerance has no place in a free society. When freedoms collide, perhaps both sides need to readjust. For example, give tax breaks and spousal benefits to all legal couples. Reword the terminology (a legal ceremony between one man and one woman is marriage; between gays, it’s a civil union). And why cannot both sides agree to disagree instead of trying to force compliance to either political correctness or to conservative religious views?
The injustice done to Brendan Eich should remind us to let everyone voice his or her own opinions, and let everyone be heard. Then respond with rhetoric not retribution.
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