Mozilla CEO’s anti-gay views deserve backlash


It seems as though judgment based on sexual orientation is often justified by religious belief; however, in an age of rigid and even “normalized” discrimination, it is refreshing to see how the act of creative boycotting can still be effective.

Earlier this week, the online dating website OKCupid left a surprise for Mozilla’s new CEO Brendan Eich – a message prompting its users logging in with Firefox to switch to an alternate browser due to Eich’s previous support for anti-gay policy. In a time when religious belief continues to justify discrimination, such boldness from a website that could potentially lose users for making such a clear protest should be celebrated.

While some may argue that not using one of the most widely used web browsers is a futile attempt at making a statement, this form of protest is reaching beyond OKCupid and now has the attention of Eich, who in 2010 donated $1,000 in support of California’s Proposition 8, a now overturned ban on gay marriage in the state.

For instance, a CREDO Action petition calling for the CEO to resign or face replacement if he does not change his anti-gay views has already received 72,172 signatures. Additionally, the CEO of Rarebit, an app developer, is boycotting Firefox OS, a phone developed by Firefox.

Though boycotting a product or business may seem like a silent, passive way to initiate social change, it is one that certainly draws attention to the issue at hand. Eich responded to the criticism in a recent interview with CNET, saying he believes the “inclusiveness” of Mozilla is
at stake. 

Though Eich asserts that Mozilla depends on users of any background and issued a press release detailing Mozilla’s support of same-sex couples, he still ranked his views on sexual orientation as less severe than racism or sexism in his interview.

Boycotting Mozilla is likely one of the only means to express intolerance toward a powerful entity that does the same toward a group of people. While doing so may not necessarily change the views of the CEO, it is likely to gain support by spreading awareness.

In 2012, protestors of Chick-fil-A gained national attention by kissing outside of the restaurant chain in opposition to its president’s announcement disapproving of same-sex families. A USF professor even issued a petition to remove the chain from the Marshall Student Center. 

Regardless of Eich’s concern for how his beliefs will affect Firefox, the more serious problem is how discriminatory views such as his constantly take priority over the actual people who are affected.

For instance, private schools often discriminate against both current and potential students based on the student or parent’s sexual orientation. Last year, a Wilmington Christian school enacted a policy that allows it to deny students whose household involves “homosexual or
bisexual activity.”

Though Mozilla itself does not outright engage in discriminatory practices, its CEO’s inability to relate to same-sex couples weakens its integrity to users. 

Action at any scale is beneficial to putting rather exclusive values in the forefront. Regardless of the amount of damage control Mozilla does to clean its now tainted image, boycotts from OKCupid and Rarebit, along with dissenting petitions, do their job in doing so.

Isabelle Cavazos is a sophomore majoring in English.