No Champagne, thanks

One of the developers to pull their app from the Firefox web app store has this to say:

I met with Brendan and asked him to just apologize for the discrimination under the law that we faced. He can still keep his personal beliefs, but I wanted him to recognize that we faced real issues with immigration and say that he never intended to cause people problems.

It’s heartbreaking to us that he was unwilling to say even that.

And that’s why Brendan Eich’s decision to step down as CEO isn’t really a victory. When asked about the issue in an interview, Eich said:

[…] when people learned of the donation, they felt pain. I saw that in friends’ eyes, [friends] who are LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered]. I saw that in 2012. I am sorry for causing that pain.

If Brendan Eich had realized that it was wrong to cause people that kind of pain by trying to get his religious beliefs forced on them by law, that would have been a victory.

If he had made a donation to (say) HRC, in order to make up for his donation to the Proposition 8 campaign, that would have been a partial victory, even if he had stated that he still stood by his beliefs — because this was not about persecuting him for his beliefs.

Nobody is demanding that you should personally believe that gay marriage is a good thing. Heck, I have straight friends I don’t think should have been allowed to get married. But I don’t try to get laws passed declaring some people to be second-class citizens who can never marry. That’s the unacceptable part; that’s what got people so upset. Of course, the social conservatives are already trying to construct a different narrative; they can see that public opinion on gay marriage is following the same trend as public opinion on interracial marriage, and it concerns them greatly. But forget that narrative, this was not a “politically correct” “purge” for “thoughtcrime”.

The job of the CEO of Mozilla is to lead the organization and the broader development committee. Trying to take away the basic rights of many members of that community is going to make it hard to lead them. That’s why Brendan Eich’s private activities — not his opinions, his actions — were a problem, given his job.

Yes, being a homophobic bigot who tries to prevent his employees from marrying is going to be a career-limiting move in San Francisco. That really shouldn’t have surprised anyone. What’s more of a surprise is that Brendan Eich has managed to work there for years, with gay employees, yet he remains so sure that it’s right to take away their freedom to marry that he’d rather step down from his job than make any concession at all. Generally bigots get over their narrow-mindedness once they get to know people who are members of whatever group they view as undeserving of normal human rights.

If only Eich had decided that whatever his personal opinions, everyone should be equal under the law; but he couldn’t even accept that. No, it’s no cause for celebration.