Best known for its Firefox internet browser, Mozilla’s CEO, Brendan Eich, stepped down after only a month in the position once same-sex marriage activists got wind of his previous opposition to gay marriage in the US. Eich, who co-founded Mozilla, donated $1,000 in support of Californian anti-gay marriage law Proposition 8 in 2008.
The law, which was initially passed, was overturned by the US Supreme Court in 2013. Gay marriage supporters swiftly began protesting his appointment on Facebook and Twitter. Even some of Mozilla’s own tweeted their dissatisfaction, with employees including Chris McAvoy and Kat Braybrooke tweeting, “I'm an employee of @mozilla and I'm asking @BrendanEich to step down as CEO”.
But perhaps the most damaging moment came when one of the most popular free online dating sites in the US with about 30 million active users, OkCupid, joined the protest. Users who visited the site using a Firefox browser were greeted with a message reading: "Hello there, Mozilla Firefox user. Pardon this interruption of your OkCupid experience. Mozilla's new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid."
Even as Eich stepped down as CEO, some were protesting the protest, calling Eich a “free speech martyr”. US writer and commentator Andrew Sullivan, who is himself gay, said, “When people’s lives and careers are subject to litmus tests, and fired if they do not publicly renounce what may well be their sincere conviction, we have crossed a line… This is the definition of intolerance.”