marriage equality brendan eich

When I first heard about the resignation of former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich late last month, the first thing I found myself thinking was, Really? This is who progressive, pro-marriage equality activists are going after? As astounding as it was that in a mere handful of days marriage equality advocates and Internet activists were able to cause enough of a stir to force one Proposition 8 supporter to resign from his high-powered career, something about the whole affair isn’t sitting quite right with me.

As it turns out, the very public resignation of Eich from Mozilla isn’t sitting quite right with a lot of people, many of whom, like myself, are supporters of marriage equality and equal rights for all. This discontentedness goes to show that the issue of marriage equality is not a polarizing one; a person can be for same-sex marriage, but against achieving it using practices that deny others a right to their own beliefs, even if those beliefs are opposing.

In the wake of the Mozilla CEO scandal, a public statement was released by a group of prominent individuals that sought to protest Eich’s resignation. These people are not right wing, conservative, marriage equality opponents. Rather, they are LGBT rights advocates, marriage equality supporters, and the like. In an open letter titled, “Freedom to Marry, Freedom to Dissent: Why We Must Have Both,” 58 influential signatories explain that the road to equality cannot be made with force and aggression from same-sex marriage supporters. Signatories like former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, Fabulous Blue Tent’s Fred Litwin, the Independent Gay Forum’s Stephen H. Miller, and Margaret Hoover, the President of the American Unity Fund, all addressed the fact that disagreement should not be punished, and that free speech is a value, not just a law.

The group of signatories notes that “We strongly believe that opposition to same-sex marriage is wrong, but the consequences of holding a wrong opinion should not be the loss of a job.” The letter also points out how “Inflicting such consequences on others is sadly ironic in light of our movement’s hard-won victory over a social order in which LGBT people were fired, harassed, and socially marginalized for holding unorthodox opinions,” drawing parallels between the way that Eich was treated and how the LGBT community has been historically oppressed in public sectors such as the workplace.

One of my own guiding principals as a self-identified feminist and LGBT ally comes from a sentiment from the late Audre Lorde: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” Was I angry that someone like Brendan Eich, who has access and social power and is also homophobic, could be the CEO of a company? Absolutely. But in my opinion, treating him the same way that LGBT people have been historically marginalized in the workplace represents a dark irony that has no place in the fight for marriage equality.

What do you think about Eich’s forced resignation from Mozilla?

Image: Rich Renomeron via Flickr CC