Mozilla, the maker of Firefox, went into damage control mode over the weekend in response to criticism that its new CEO had donated to a California anti-gay marriage ballot proposition in 2008.
That criticism has expanded to include an online petition calling for Brendan Eich's resignation or firing if he does not "make an unequivocal statement of support for marriage equality," as well as the online dating service OkCupid.com urging its members not to use Firefox.
On its official blog Saturday, Mozilla clarified its stance on marriage equality, stating, "Mozilla supports equality for all, including marriage equality for LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] couples. No matter who you are or who you love, everyone deserves the same rights and to be treated equally."
Eich was promoted to CEO on March 24.
"Over the past few days we have been asked a number of questions about Brendan Eich's appointment as CEO," Mozilla explained on March 29. "This post is to clarify Mozilla's official support of equality and inclusion for LGBT people."
In 2008, during the run-up to the passage of California's Proposition 8, Eich contributed $1,000 to ProtectMarriage.com, a collection of conservative and religious political activist groups that supported the ballot measure, which altered the state's constitution to ban same-sex marriages. The law was later declared unconstitutional by a federal court.
Although Eich's donation had first come to light in 2012, last week several Mozilla employees took to Twitter calling for his resignation.
Both Eich and Mozilla Foundation chairperson Mitchell Baker responded with blogs of their own last week.
"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," Eich wrote on March 26.
Eich's comments and Baker's statement of support were obviously not deemed sufficient by Mozilla, which followed them with the Saturday blog explicitly backing marriage equality.
On Sunday, Mark Surman, the executive director of Mozilla, also weighed in. Surman, who titled his post "Mozilla is messy," argued that while those involved with the open-source developer were often at odds on all kinds of issues, they were of one mind when it came to the importance of an open Internet. "This ability to set aside differing and diverse beliefs to focus on a common cause is something we as Mozilla stand for on principle," Surman said.
Even so, Surman worried that harm been done to Mozilla by the strife over Eich's stance on gay marriage. "I worry that Mozilla is in a tough spot right now," Surman confided. "I worry that we do a bad job of explaining ourselves, that people are angry and don't know who we are or where we stand. And, I worry that in the time it takes to work this through and explain ourselves the things I love about Mozilla will be deeply damaged."
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