It turns out that Eich has a rather controversial political history. The former Mozilla CEO once donated $1,000 to support Proposition 8, a proposal for a California state constitutional amendment that aimed to end same-sex marriage. The Proposition was passed in 2008 but was ruled unconstitutional two years later. When Eich’s involvement with the Proposition came to light, the public aimed to bring the newly named CEO down.
OKCupid, an online dating site, has made one of the more public and blatant acts of defiance against Eich and by extension, Firefox. On March 31, just days after Eich took the position, OkCupid users accessing the website from Firefox were not shown their regular homepage. The dating site that gets nearly ten million hits daily instead displayed a letter: “Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla’s software to access OkCupid.” They went on to explain that although it is not necessarily their job to act upon political matters, it literally is their business. They strongly declared, “OkCupid is for creating love. Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.”
OkCupid’s statement came in conjunction with urges for Eich’s resignation from senior staff at Mozilla who believed that opposing equality is against the very moral fiber of the company. OkCupid’s goal was reached on April 3 when Eich stepped down as CEO. Despite Eich’s blog post on Mozilla’s website March 26 that affirmed his commitment to inclusiveness at Mozilla, his efforts were clearly insufficient to earn the public’s forgiveness. With his resignation he announced, “Our mission is bigger than any one of us, and under the present circumstances, I cannot be an effective leader.” As of now, the former CEO has announced no plans on moving forward.
When all is said and done, this ordeal raises a few interesting questions. Despite an employee’s political opinions, no matter how disagreeable, shouldn’t they be able to keep their job? Can employees truly not work with someone with a different viewpoint? Although it is understandable to be angry, it is against our country’s mantra of absolute freedom to punish people for something they believe in.
Andrew Sullivan, the openly homosexual writer and founder of “The Dish” noted in an interview on the Colbert Report that there is a law in California that makes it illegal for someone to be fired based on a political viewpoint. Although Eich was not technically fired, it sparks an interesting conversation about politics in the office. Sullivan noted, “ You don’t want to bring this kind of political warfare into the workplace. We have got to be able to get along with people we sincerely, passionately disagree with.”
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