Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Prop 8 supporter as the new guy in charge of Firefox -- is that OK?


Click to enlarge. Note that the live link to automatically sign the petition is here.

by Ken

I'm coming late to the controversy that erupted late this week about the choice of a new CEO for Mozilla, the company that produces Firefox, the country's second most popular Net browser. So I'm grateful for Credo Action's political director, Becky Bond, for bringing me up to speed. I'm not big on petition-signing, but the cause certainly seems worth airing.

Becky directs us to HuffPost's unbylined Thursday post "Mozilla's Appointment Of Brendan Eich As CEO Sparks Controversy After Prop 8 Donation News Re-Emerges," which included these responses from Brendan Eich and other people at Mozilla:
Eich addressed the controversy in a lengthy blog post, noting, "I know there are concerns about my commitment to fostering equality and welcome for LGBT individuals at Mozilla."

He added, "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 ... 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."

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Mozilla released a statement in defense of Eich's appointment, saying the company was "deeply committed to honoring diversity in sexual orientation and beliefs within our staff and community."

"With thousands of people spanning many countries and cultures, diversity is core to who we are," the statement continued, "And we’re united in our mission to keep the Web open and accessible for everyone."

Similarly, Mozilla's Education Lead Christie Koehler, who is gay, also defended the company in a blog post, despite stressing that she was "disappointed" to learn that Eich had made donations in support of Prop 8.

"Certainly it would be problematic if Brendan’s behavior within Mozilla was explicitly discriminatory ... I haven’t personally seen this (although to be clear, I was not part of Brendan’s reporting structure until today)," she wrote. "To the contrary, over the years I have watched Brendan be an ally in many areas and bring clarity and leadership when needed."


That's the obvious question, and obviously a lot of people don't think it is good enough. Here are a couple of portions of Becky's open letter (there are footnotes on the Credo Action website):
Mozilla, maker of the world's second most popular browser Firefox, announced a leadership change this week. In a highly controversial move, Brendan Eich was named CEO despite his public support for the anti-gay Proposition 8 which ended the marriage equality for gays and lesbians in California until it was overturned by the Supreme Court last summer.

There is not a simply a public disagreement about an individual's personal beliefs, but rather a serious crisis involving a powerful global organization and a leader with a history of explicit advocacy to deny gays and lesbians equal rights under law.

Mozilla is an organization that has demonstrated a deep commitment to openness and equality. That's why it was so shocking that its board of directors named a CEO with a public record of anti-gay advocacy.

Tell Mozilla: Your brand should be identified with openness and equality -- not anti-gay hate. New CEO Brendan Eich must reverse his anti-gay stance, resign or be replaced. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

Many people have evolved their views on equality as American attitudes on gay rights have shifted dramatically in recent years. It's time for Eich to join them. As the representative of a global brand that represents openness and is committed to equality and inclusiveness, Eich should make an unequivocal statement of support for marriage equality. If he cannot, he should resign. And if he will not, the board should fire Eich immediately. . . .

Tell Mozilla: If Brendan Eich doesn't make an unequivocal statement of support for marriage equality, he must resign. If he refuses to do so he should be fired. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

Since announcing the selection of Eich as CEO, Mozilla has faced an incredible backlash. Some members of the broader Mozilla community have advocated for a boycott of the Firefox browsers. There are employees calling for Eich's resignation via Twitter. Eich himself released a statement that stopped far short of addressing his anti-gay advocacy but instead affirmed his commitment to enforcing Mozilla's strong anti-discrimination policies for its employees. And Mozilla’s board chair took pains to make clear her support for gay rights even as she defended the choice of Eich to lead the organization. Facing increasing pressure, Mozilla later released a second blog post on the matter underscoring the organization's commitment to "openness and equality for all people" and making an explicit statement in support of marriage equality.

But the board's decision to elevate Eich, whose history of anti-gay advocacy was public before he was hired, to the position of CEO is a forceful gesture that elevates an advocate of writing discrimination into our laws to the head of a global brand representing openness and equality. The people at Mozilla and their massive community of users deserve better than a leader that advocates for inequality and hate.

It’s not enough for Eich to pledge that he will enforce Mozilla's strong internal policies that ensure all employees are treated equal when he continues to refuse to renounce his advocacy for legislating hateful discrimination against gays and lesbians with constitutional amendments such as Proposition 8.

We hope for and would welcome a public statement from Eich of unequivocal support for equality not just within Mozilla but for all Americans. If he cannot do this he should resign or be fired.

Thank you for standing up for equal rights for all Americans.



At 6:27 AM, Anonymous A.Jorg said...

Can't sign the petition when I'm not from the US. Disappointing

At 6:10 PM, Anonymous B. Dunfyre said...

I totally and actively opposed prop 8 and support full equality, in all respects for LGBT people. But ideological purges like this are a surefire way to sabotage real progress. Mozilla's mission is a progressive one. Progressive movements can choose to form coalitions where there is common purpose. Or we can apply purity tests and hand victory to our real opponents by burning down each others' houses because there's someone inside that isn't 100% in line with our personal values.

The people of the Mozilla foundation are clearly capable of making their own determinations. It is utter arrogance for the outrage brigades of the web to assign themselves as judge, jury, and executioner in the case of Brandon Eich's appointment to be CEO. But navigating organizational complexity and getting along with others to work toward a common goal is hard, and pounding your chest loudly about your righteousness on Twitter or signing petitions with a single is absurdly, trivially easy.


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