When Proposition 8 passed in California back in 2008, the gay community and their supporters were livid. The fact that a minority’s civil right was put on the ballot and in the end denied by a bigoted, albeit small, majority was an unspeakable injustice. The community mobilized and fought back. Gay-friendly businesses that supported Prop8 were boycotted. El Coyote Restaurant in Los Angeles, which had a large gay clientele, lost almost 30% of its revenue because of a $100 donation made in support of Prop8 by its owner. Six years later, the restaurant never recovered.
Prop8 caused an irreversible chasm between its supporters, who were against gay marriage, and its proponents, who saw it as a human right. Old friends severed ties over Prop8. Family members stopped talking to each other over Prop8. Some businesses suffered and some thrived because of Prop8.
But the real victims here were the families whose lives were changed forever because of that law. Multinational couples couldn’t legally stay together because of visa issues that marriage could have taken care of.
Real livelihoods were forever damaged because of Prop8.
Prop8 wasn’t about differences in opinion. It’s about denying a group of people an undeniable civil right. It’s about exclusion. It’s about injustice. It was a blatant display of homophobia sanctioned by the state. It’s about state-run bigotry.
Eventually, Prop8 was struck down as unconstitutional but the scars still remain. The rift between the camps on both sides of the issue was and still is irreconcilable.
On March 24th, 2014, controversy broke out when Mozilla appointed Prop8 supporter, Brendan Eich, CEO. Many, including me, denounced the announcement while others came to Brendan’s support saying he’s entitled to his “private opinion.”
Brendan has an unfavorable view of gay people, which is fine. It’s a free country. But he financially supported Prop8 and played a role in its passage. He actively imposed his exclusionary and bigoted views on the rest of us.
As a private citizen, Brendan is 100% free to be as bigoted and as homophobic as his heart desires. Again, it’s a free country. But he’s not a private citizen anymore. He’s the face of Mozilla, which till recently had a progressive and inclusionary image. It’s disingenuous of Mozilla to appoint a man with an exclusionary mindset to run its inclusionary culture.
Gandhi said, “actions express priorities.” Brendan Eich and all the Prop8 supporters have taken action to deny a minority their civil rights. That should tell you where their priorities lie. The question is, is that Mozilla’s priority? Sure sounds like it judging by their latest action.
A lot of people have called on Eich to apologize. I disagree with that. Why make a man apologize for his personal beliefs. Bullying him into apologizing is in and of itself equally disingenuous. Brendan believes that gay people should be excluded from the civil benefits of marriage and actively sought to enforce that opinion of exclusion on all of us by supporting Prop8. Why should he say that didn’t mean it or that he’s sorry. He’s not.
It’s time for the Mozilla Board to act. Their inaction so far is in direct violation of their public image as an inclusive community–or are they?
A big priority of mine is to ensure the failure of all bigots, especially those that are actively trying to marginalize my life and my relationships. My actions, in turn, will be an expression of that priority. First action: writing this article. Many more actions to come.