Mozilla Employees Call For CEO Resignation Over Financial Backing Of Anti-Gay Marriage Effort

Gay marriage rights is one of the most potent issues of today, and strong feelings from both sides have spilled over into Mozilla’s boardroom. Mozilla promoted Brendan Eich from CTO to CEO last week, but when it was revealed that Eich donated $1,000 to the Prop 8 effort (legislation to ban gay marriage in California, if you were living under a rock for a while there), things blew up.

Quickly, Mozilla issued a statement on diversity, noting for example that the company extends the same benefits to domestic partners that it offers to married couples even in states where it’s not required. “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,” read the statement.

Brendan Eich
Brendan Eich

Eich himself penned a post wherein he acknowledged the blowback to his appointment as CEO. “I know there are concerns about my commitment to fostering equality and welcome for LGBT individuals at Mozilla,” he wrote. He said that several LGBT individuals and allies have counseled him on navigating the tricky waters of establishing equality in the company for all, despite his apparent personal opposition to gay marriage.

He came up with the following commitments and asked for patience:

-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.

To date, his efforts have not been successful in calming the storm. The Wall Street Journal reported that three Mozilla board members--Gary Kovacs, John Lilly, and Ellen Siminoff--resigned (although Mozilla told Venture Beat that two of them were already planning to leave anyway) and plenty of employees have publicly voiced their displeasure at Eich’s appointment.

Hampton and Michael Caitlin's wedding
Hampton and Michael Caitlin's wedding (Credit: Hampton Caitlin)

At least one programmer, Hampton Caitlin, and his husband Michael, have pulled their work from the Firefox Marketplace in protest, saying, “As a married gay couple who are co-founders of this venture, we have chosen to boycott all Mozilla projects. We will not develop apps or test styles on Firefox anymore.”

Yesterday, Mozilla penned a post not-so-subtly titled “Mozilla Supports LGBT Equality”. “Mozilla’s mission is to make the Web more open so that humanity is stronger, more inclusive and more just,” reads the byline-less post. “This is why Mozilla supports equality for all, including marriage equality for LGBT couples. No matter who you are or who you love, everyone deserves the same rights and to be treated equally.”

The company appears to be trying to distance itself corporately from its CEO’s personal views on a hot-button issue, but it’s not apparent that the effort is working. The firestorm continues.