So long, Brendan Eich. He was momentarily CEO at Mozilla, until his anti-marriage equality donation (and refusal to discuss it) left him unable to manage a diverse company with a diverse audience. Now that the notion that he was forced out by the “gay mafia” has been debunked, we can see the real reason he quit. Basically, he leadership-failed himself out of a job.
But Eich’s not the first antigay villain to feel the consequences of being on the wrong side of history. In the aftermath of Prop 8’s passage, lots of individuals and businesses who contributed to marriage inequality felt wrath and struggled to retain the standing they maintained before their defeat.
Is this a good thing? Influential people now may think twice about giving to initiatives intended to demean others. But it also may have a chilling effect on people’s willingness to speak their minds on unpopular causes.
Poor Frank. He’s a political strategist who bet big on banning marriage equality, and now his business prospects are looking kind of grim.
Oh, sure, he did a great job winning the Prop 8 battle back in 2008. He’s basically the architect of the modern anti-marriage-equality movement: he designed the ads, the messaging, the strategy, everything. And for a little while, it looked like he was winning.
After Prop 8, he formed a new company called Mission: Public Affairs, dedicated exclusively to battling social causes. So, how’s that going? Not great. Since 2012, he’s been losing one ballot fight after another as voters legalize the freedom to marry.
Now he’s a bit of a pariah in political circles. He backed discrimination — and what’s worse, he lost. Good luck finding clients with any money now that conservative donors are losing their appetite for antigay activism. (Of course, there are still plenty of fights to wage over nondiscrimination, so we still may not have seen the last of him.)
Oh, and did we mention that his sister’s a lesbian? Must make things a little awkward at Thanksgiving to know that he thinks her marriage is inferior to his.
This might’ve been the messiest of the Prop 8 fusses. El Coyote is a Mexican restaurant in a middle of one of those parts of LA that you drive through on your way to someplace else. People loved the place, and freaked out when they learned that one of the owners, Marjorie Christofferson, donated $100 to Prop 8.
So the owners invited LGBTs to complementary lunch meeting to soothe tensions, but it was a disaster. Christofferson read a statement that she was sad she made people sad, and that was pretty much it.
The crowd got angry. Someone demanded that she make a donation to an organization working to repeal Prop 8. She refused. Everyone started yelling. Christofferson ran off. Organizers picketed the restaurant for a few days, then got bored and trickled away. Christofferson kept a low profile for a while, and was soon back at the restaurant.
Good work, everyone.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
If there was ever an easy villain in the Prop 8 story, it was the Mormon Church. The organization had been working on actively harming LGBTs for decades, and so they were pros by the time Prop 8 rolled around.
After the election, Lori Jean (a longtime community organizer, and head of the LA LGBT center) stood up at a rally outside the Mormon Temple in Beverly Hills to announce that for every $5 donated to repeal Prop 8, her organization would send a postcard to Mormon officials to let them know that the money was donated in their name.
“Let’s flood the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City with postcards!” she cried. Uh, good idea, sure.
For some reason, two separate theater owners got swept up in the backlash.
Rozene Supple owns a movie theater in Palm Springs, and recently it came to light that she was making lots of anti-gay donations — including to Prop 8. Palm Springs is super-gay, and the locals were all very upset. There was talk of a boycott.
A few days after the announcement, she reversed course and stopped donating to anyone who doesn’t support marriage equality. Good job!
But then there’s Alan Stock, CEO of Cinemark. He gave about $10,000 to the Prop 8 campaign, and hasn’t apologized since. There was a boycott. It didn’t really do anything.
Richard Raddon and Scott Eckern
Richard and Scott both worked in artsy communities (the LA Film Festival and the California Musical Theater, respectively). And both were Mormons.
You can probably guess where this is going: they donated to the Prop 8 campaign, their colleagues were aghast, and they quit their jobs to protect the reputation of the organizations that they worked for.
What are we to make of all this? Is it a good thing that our opponents are hounded out of a job?
Well, on one hand, yes, it’s helpful to demonstrate that opposing marriage equality is so unacceptable that people will just flat-out refuse to do business with bigots. This isn’t just an “agree to disagree” situation; it’s just flat-out unconscionable.
But on the other hand, it is really useful to our opponents when this happens. It plays right into their narrative: the gays are the intolerant ones, who won’t allow people to have different opinions. That’s nonsense, of course, but it’s also a really tempting story if you are looking for a reason to be afraid of homosexuals.
But on the OTHER other hand, what are LGBTs supposed to do when someone wants to harm us? Say, Oh, you think we’re inferior people, but we’re going to keep giving you our business because we don’t want to create the impression that we’re angry?
The fact is that everyone is free to hold morally reprehensible opinions. But expressing or acting on those opinions can have consequences. And if you’re not prepared to deal with those consequences, well, maybe your convictions aren’t as strong as you thought they were.