(by James Freeman, The Wall Street Journal) – “In Silicon Valley, where personal quirks and even antisocial personalities are tolerated as long as you are building new products and making money, a socially conservative viewpoint may be one trait you have to keep to yourself,” writes the New York Times.
On Thursday, new Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich* resigned under pressure from the nonprofit organization that makes the popular Firefox web browser. After his recent appointment to the top job, some Mozilla employees had taken to social media to attack him for a donation he once made to support Proposition 8. A 2008 California ballot initiative, Prop 8 defined marriage as between a man and a woman and won the support of a majority of voters but was later invalidated by judges.
At Mozilla, Mr. Eich was recently given the chance to repudiate his belief in traditional marriage and refused to do so, though he made clear he would not change company policies which currently provide gay couples with the same health benefits enjoyed by married heterosexuals.
According to the Times,
“Mr. Eich said he had a number of gay supporters within Mozilla who didn’t agree with his personal beliefs, but supported him as chief executive. He said the issue of his donation came to light in 2012 at a conference. When a friend who would have been barred from marrying by the successful Proposition 8 effort learned of his donation, ‘I could see the pain in her eyes. I’m sorry that people felt a lot of pain,’ he said.”
The Times adds that:
“there is no indication that Mr. Eich behaved in a biased manner at work.”
So it appears that simply holding a private belief that was shared by a majority of Californians in 2008 and by President Obama until May of 2012 is no longer tolerated by the extreme wing of the movement to redefine marriage – or by the Silicon Valley technology community. Has a culture that once prided itself on its openness and inclusiveness become so bigoted that it cannot accept anyone who holds traditional Christian, Jewish or Muslim beliefs?