Mozilla Boss Quits Over Gay Rights Controversy


The CEO of Mozilla Corporation has resigned after criticism of his opposition to gay marriage. It follows protests on Twitter and by dating site OK Cupid, but has prompted debate about the limits of tolerance.

Brendan Eich, who created Javascript, was the co-founder of Mozilla and had been the chief technical officer of the Mozilla Corporation since 2005. Last month he was promoted to chief executive officer.

The promotion reawakened a controversy that began in 2012 when it became public knowledge that Eich had donated $1,000 to the campaign for Proposition 8. That was a measure, passed narrowly by a vote of the Californian public, to explictly make same-sex marriage illegal in the state. The measure was later declared unconstitutional.

Following Eich’s promotion, three of the six members of the Mozilla board resigned in protest. Numerous Mozilla employees, some in senior positions, used Twitter to openly call for Eich’s resignation.

Management at dating site OK Cupid even configured the site to display a message whenever any users tried to access the site using Mozilla’s Firefox browser. The message addressed the controversy and asked users to switch browsers, though didn’t stop Firefox users from clicking through to the site itself.

Mozilla has now announced Eich’s resignation and executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker has apologized to users:

Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves.

We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.

The news has had a mixed response with some critics of Eich celebrating his departure but others in the tech world questioning whether the campaign against him was itself a form of intolerance.

(Image Source: Mozilla Foundation / Wikimedia Commons)

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