Mozilla's Appointment Of Brendan Eich As CEO Sparks Controversy After Prop 8 Donation News Re-Emerges

03/27/2014 11:38 am ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016
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Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights advocates are crying foul over the Mozilla Foundation's appointment of co-founder Brendan Eich as the company's new CEO.

LGBT advocacy groups are pointing to a 2012 Los Angeles Times report on Eich's personal donations, which included a 2008 contribution of $1,000 to the "Yes on 8" campaign in support of California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, Prop 8.

Rarebit CEO and Wikipedia Mobile creator Hampton Catlin, who is openly gay, sounded off on the news in a blog post, noting that he and his husband would no longer support Mozilla after news of Eich's contribution re-emerged.

"As a gay couple who were unable to get married in California until recently, we morally cannot support a Foundation that would not only leave someone with hateful views in power, but will give them a promotion and put them in charge of the entire organization," Catlin wrote. "By the very bones in our body, we cannot dare use our creativity, experience, knowledge, and passion to further the career of a man who has to this day not apologized for his support."

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."

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