John M. Becker

UPDATED: Mozilla in Damage-Control Mode After Hiring Anti-Gay CEO

Filed By John M. Becker | March 26, 2014 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: Brendan Eich, Firefox, gay marriage, marriage discrimination, marriage equality, Mozilla, Prop 8, Proposition 8, same-sex marriage

UPDATE: Within literally three minutes of my posting this article on Twitter, Mozilla responded with a link to a statement issued by Eich today. It's after the jump.


mozilla-firefox-logo.pngMozilla, the company behind Firefox -- the world's second-most-popular web browser -- is in full-on damage control mode today after it announced on Monday that it was promoting its chief technology officer, Brendan Eich, to the role of CEO.

Eich, a Mozilla co-founder, made headlines two years ago when it was revealed that he donated $1,000 to support California's discriminatory Proposition 8 in 2008. Eich responded (in a long-winded blog post, ironically) that he refused to discuss the donation but that a $1,000 contribution in support of marriage discrimination "does not... constitute evidence of [anti-LGBT] animosity."

Upon hearing the news of Eich's promotion, developers Hampton and Michael Catlin, a binational married gay couple, immediately announced a boycott of Mozilla:

"Today we were shocked to read that Brendan Eich has been appointed Mozilla CEO. As a gay couple who were unable to get married in California until recently, we morally cannot support a Foundation that would not only leave someone with hateful views in power, but will give them a promotion and put them in charge of the entire organization...

"I certainly recognize that there are great people at Mozilla. And that lots of people there want the org to be open and supportive. However, the board could have chosen ANY of those other, awesome people at Mozilla to be CEO. Hey, I've got a crazy idea, how about a woman at Mozilla? Nope. Out of all the possible candidates they could have chosen, they chose Brendan Eich. CEO's are extremely important to an organization. Their ideas, beliefs, philosophies, and personalities drive organizations."

Hampton is CEO of rarebit and is also the creator of Wikipedia Mobile and CSS extension language Sass, so his denunciation of Eich is big news. The story is rippling through the blogosphere and earning Mozilla a whole round of bad press, so the company responded late yesterday with the following statement:

Mozilla has always been deeply committed to honoring diversity in sexual orientation and beliefs within our staff and community, across all the project's activities. One concrete example of this is in our health benefit policies. Mozilla provides the same level of benefits and advantages to domestic partners as we do to married couples across the United States, even in states where it is not mandated. For those who choose life insurance, voluntary spouse coverage extends to domestic partners, including same-sex couples. With thousands of people spanning many countries and cultures, diversity is core to who we are, and we're united in our mission to keep the Web open and accessible for everyone.

That's nice and all, but if I were a Firefox user it wouldn't be enough to convince me to return. Nothing less than a full apology will do.

Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich issued a new statement today in response to the backlash around his promotion:

I am deeply honored and humbled by the CEO role. I'm also grateful for the messages of support. At the same time, I know there are concerns about my commitment to fostering equality and welcome for LGBT individuals at Mozilla. I hope to lay those concerns to rest, first by making a set of commitments to you. More important, I want to lay them to rest by actions and results.

A number of Mozillians, including LGBT individuals and allies, have stepped forward to offer guidance and assistance in this. I cannot thank you enough, and I ask for your ongoing help to make Mozilla a place of equality and welcome for all. Here are my commitments, and here's what you can expect:

  • Active commitment to equality in everything we do, from employment to events to community-building.
  • Working with LGBT communities and allies, to listen and learn what does and doesn't make Mozilla supportive and welcoming.
  • My ongoing commitment to our Community Participation Guidelines, our inclusive health benefits, our anti-discrimination policies, and the spirit that underlies all of these.
  • My personal commitment to work on new initiatives to reach out to those who feel excluded or who have been marginalized in ways that makes their contributing to Mozilla and to open source difficult. More on this last item below.

I know some will be skeptical about this, and that words alone will not change anything. I can only ask for your support to have the time to "show, not tell"; and in the meantime express my sorrow at having caused pain.

Mozilla is a movement composed of different people around the world, working productively together on a common mission. This is important to our ability to work and grow around the world.

Many Mozillians and others know me as a colleague or a friend. They know that I take people as they come and work with anyone willing to contribute. At the same time, I don't ask for trust free of context, or without a solid structure to support accountability. No leader or person who has a privileged position should. I want to be held accountable for what I do as CEO. I fully expect you all to do so.

I am committed to ensuring that Mozilla is, and will remain, a place that includes and supports everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, economic status, or religion.

You will see exemplary behavior from me toward everyone in our community, no matter who they are; and the same toward all those whom we hope will join, and for those who use our products. Mozilla's inclusive health benefits policies will not regress in any way. And I will not tolerate behavior among community members that violates our Community Participation Guidelines or (for employees) our inclusive and non-discriminatory employment policies.

You'll also see more from Mozilla under my leadership in the way of efforts to include potential contributors, especially those who lack privilege. This entails several projects, starting with Project Ascend, which being developed by Lukas Blakk. I intend to demonstrate with meaningful action my commitment to a Mozilla that lives up to its ideals, including that of being an open and inclusive community.

/be

Thoughts? Still no apology, so still not good enough in my view.


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