Does Mozilla CEO Really Deserve To Lose His Job Simply For Exercising His First Amendment Right?

Earlier this week Brendan Eich was forced to step down as CEO of Mozilla due to pressure from the gay community and their supporters who were upset with him for donating $1,000 to support California’s Prop 8 initiative in 2008.

This is not the first time someone has been forced to resign or fired for their political beliefs. People often make inflammatory remarks — often in their personal lives, outside of work — that end up costing them their jobs. (Remember that Alec Baldwin guy?)

Eich’s resignation begs the question: Should he have to lose his job simply for exercising his freedom of speech? Does it even matter that he gave $1,000 to Prop 8 when, ultimately, that law was struck down and same-sex marriage became legal anyway? And what message does it send when the gay community —perhaps the most vocal advocates against bullying and discrimination — threaten and succeed at taking away someone’s livelihood just because they don’t agree with them?

What do you think? Sound off in the comments section below.

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  • Mezaien

    If I am as a HOMO, can lose my job just because I am HOMO, so anyone else can lose theirs just because! why yes?.

  • NudeYorker

    This got out of hand. This guy is not one of the Koch Brothers. He donated $1,000 to Prop 8 six years ago and should not have been forced to resign over this. To my knowledge, he never let his political beliefs affect his business. It’s not like the Barilla spaghetti CEO saying he didn’t want gay people to buy his pasta. We shouldn’t become a bunch of gay vigilantes on a rampage.

  • Cam

    And once again Queerty DESPERATELY rushes to minimize or defend anything done by a Mormon bigot.

    Please get some people on your staff that actually understand what the first amendment is and guarantees.

    The first Amendment means you can express your opinion and not be arrested by the govt. for doing so. It doesn’t mean that other people have to like what you say.

    So, for example, if somebody opened a school, and then “Expressed their first amendment right by declaring that they thought children should be beaten everyday” is it a violation of their rights if parents decide not to enroll their children in that school? Of course now.

    What Queerty is saying is that that bigot has the right to hate gays and pay to have gays rights stripped away but that gays do not have the right to disagree with that, or to not want to do business with his company.

    He was fired because he was bad for business simple as that.

  • ack747

    Mozilla had a great non-discrimination policy and provided health benefits to same-sex couples. He kept his personal views and job separate and still got punished for it. What kind of message does that send?

    And for anyone celebrating him losing his job, who also voted for Obama: you’re a dirty pathetic hypocrite. Even today, the Prez still thinks gay marriage is a state issue (like Eich).

  • tjr101

    What gay organizations forced this man out of his job? Name them.
    None, this was a reaction from Mozilla’s customer base who refused to do business with a CEO not only for his past donation to Prop 8 but also his recently revealed donations to the likes of Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul. He quit his job because his baggage was having a negative effect on the company, this is free market capitalism.

    People are free to react by not doing business with an organization who’s CEO has done them harm in the past. His free speech was not infringed in anyway, and from the looks of it he never once expressed any regret for his past.

  • Cam

    @NudeYorker: said…

    “We shouldn’t become a bunch of gay vigilantes on a rampage


    I love the tactics the right wing has brainwashed into the community.

    1. Minimize what he did “Gee, he just donated some money a few years ago. “You mean he took hard earned cash and spent it in an attempt to strip civil rights away from gays.”

    2. Oh goodness me, we shouldn’t become a bunch of vigilantes on a rampage. “So in other words saying “Hmmmm, there are many options out there, and this one company hired a homophobic bigot and these other ones did not. Well I guess I HAVE to shop at the company who hired the homophobic bigot because I have no rights or freedoms, and gee, if I don’t give money to the bigoted company then that makes me a vigilante.

    It is very basic psychology, minimize the language of what he did, and maximize and exaggerate what gays did. It’s straight from the book of “Right Wing Troll 101”

  • tjr101

    @ack747: Your desperately grasping at straws comparing the President with the likes of Eich.

  • Cam

    @ack747: said… “And for anyone celebrating him losing his job, who also voted for Obama: you’re a dirty pathetic hypocrite. Even today, the Prez still thinks gay marriage is a state issue (like Eich).


    I LOVE it when the right wing trolls can’t keep it subtle, they have to get their little OBama digs in.

    1. Queerty is trying to defend this guy, who paid to have gays rights stripped from them, and yet attacking the president who just forced the Federal govt. to recognize marriages in states like Mi. and Ut that are in flux. Interesting.

    Right wing trolls, remember, you tried all these phony attacks during the whole Prop 8 thing and they didn’t work. We can always tell it when the Mormons are getting pissy because you get FAR to angry and defensive on a story like this, AND you always use the same used up discredited arguments.

  • ryanthehulk

    From the onset this entire thing was handled horribly. This could all have been avoided by stating (whether true or not) that his position on the matter has changed, which has actually happened for a lot of people since that time, 2008 was six years ago. He releases a statement saying how he supports marriage equality now, how proud he is to work for an inclusive company like Google. Maybe he makes a nominal donation to a pro-equality organization, when the time comes have Google file an amicus brief in a marriage equality court case.
    It’s public relations, not rocket science.

  • AxelDC

    Do Mozilla employees have to be subjected to working for a bigot without protest? Why are you not defending their 1st Amendment right to speak out against a prejudiced boss?

    Would Andrew Sullivan or Queerty defend a company for hiring a KKK member as CEO? Would Mozilla not face customer backlash if they declared that female employees were not eligible for promotion. If Sullivan and Queerty do not think that homophobia is just as great a sin as racism or sexism, then they do not believe in gay rights.

  • Cam


    He couldn’t do that because his position hadn’t changed.

  • tjr101

    @ryanthehulk: That sounds nice, but the fact is HE HAS NOT CHANGED. And like the Chic Fil A guy, may actually be proud of his donations. Eich hasn’t changed which is why his statement beats around the bush with no expression of remorse.

  • Stefano

    @cam : i think It is time to boycott Queerty. Shame on you Queerty !

  • melewis

    @tjr101: I agree with you on this completely. The “Gays” had nothing to do with this!

  • grahambower

    Thomas Jefferson wrote:

    “I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”

    Surely the entitlement of GBLT people to equality is part of the progress to which Jefferson was referring.

    People are *not* entitled to express any opinion they want without consequences. Plenty of discriminatory views are already outlawed.

  • mrsbuela

    It never ceases to amaze ol Buela here how dumb these right wingers are.

    For such “patriots” who want to “defend” the constitution they just never seem able to comprehend that Free Speech applies to the government.

    They also don’t seem to comprehend that there are consequences for actions and shooting one’s mouth off.

    It’s better to keep your mouth shut and have people think you’re an idiot than to open your mouth and confirm it. Sadly, this concept seems to be lost on the right wingers.

  • tardis

    What these people fail to do is not that they’re vocal about their opinions, is that they’re running a business which is there to serve everybody. Once you start saying things, you’re inviting the baggage that comes with it. People like him shouldn’t have to resign, but people vote with their dollars and if their in the business of being bigoted, ignorant, prejudiced or antigay, common sense dictates that things aren’t going to go well for that person. So, they should consider the implications their actions could have on their company.

  • xzall

    WAy to leave out important information Queerty, like the fact that half the board members resigned over the issue and that they kept finding out more information on Eich. That he not only gave money for Prop 8 but money in support of anti gay politicians like Pat Buchanan.

    And more importantly, that he had numerous private conversations with employees of the company where he was asked outright his current stance, including whether he believed in statements by Pat Buchanan that gay people were given AIDS as a punishment by God and he in the year 2014, refused to say that he no longer believes this. He refused to show empathy to the people who were damaged by prop 8 including to the international couple who started the boycott.

    According to them, it wasn’t just about marriage equality but that he fundamentally did not see Gay people as equal and deserving human beings.

    Mozilla is a non profit depending on the volunteer work of many in the tech community and is specifically a company that supposed to promote equality for all. They could not afford the brain drain that was happening due to this controversy. Eich saw the writing on the wall that this was not going to go away and decided to quit as CEO.

  • ingyaom

    I love how if we don’t tolerate his intolerance then we are intolerant. Imagine if this guy had donated $1000 to block interracial marriage. Would people be saying he had “freedom of speech” then?

  • GeriHew

    I don’t see anyone calling for a boycott of JavaScript – this Brendan Eich guy invented that you know.

    Boycotting Firefox? That’s easy. There’s plenty of alternative browsers.

    Boycotting JavaScript? Well you can disable it from you browser. Some people do. But you will probably find the Internet pretty frustrating and boring without it and lots of stuff you were using simply won’t work. So then you’ll probably enable JavaScript again.

  • Stevenw

    @xzall: Damn right Xzall. That is a terrible article by Queerty, trolling their readership for page clicks. Really, really poor.

    As an open source, community-based enterprise, the Mozilla is understandably very sensitive of its image. Brendan Eich co-founded Mozilla; it was hardly likely he would let it fall apart about him just so he could stay CEO. He ‘forced’ himself out of the role, no-one else was responsible.

    Additionally, no-one has taken away Brendan Eich’s ‘livelihood’. Brendan Eich founded JavaScript language; he has more money than you or I will *ever* see. Comparing him to people who really have lost their livelihoods is frankly insulting.

  • coltonblack

    From a PR standpoint, he should never have been in the position in the first place. Had someone properly vetted the guy, the entire matter could have been avoided. Just saying.

  • Billy Budd

    It is immoral to support discrimination. An immoral person should not be in a position of command.

  • curan

    This was really about the big pile of money that Google holds for Mozilla – at least $300m – which was endangered by the appointment.

    I think that people ought to be allowed to make amends.

    Perhaps Eich could have announced an HTML5 get-out-the-vote app backing marriage equality, which he would personally author.

    We have to be able to forgive. Never-ending grudges destroy those who carry them.

  • jkrupiarz

    Prop 8 took five years to overturn, setting back gay marriage by five years. It loomed over my family and our young daughters for five years. He opposed it to an extent that he put a material amount of money towards its success. It was six years ago because that’s when the election was. It doesn’t mean he wouldn’t do it again. Calling this a free speech issue is disingenuous and fits right into the Supreme Court’s contention that money is speech. He can continue donating his money wherever he wants, just not as Mozilla CEO. I support whatever it took to accomplish this and love it that now we’ve gained power the other side is whining because we’re using it after we’ve been subjected to political oppression forever.

  • DarkZephyr

    @GeriHew: I am a little confused about what your point is.

    Of course we are going to do whatever we can to avoid doing business with this guy and putting money into his pocket. If we can’t help using JavaScript then we can’t help using it. Many of medicine’s advances were horribly achieved by Nazi experimentation on Jews and Poles and possibly gays. Does this mean I am going to avoid going to the doctor when I need to? Absolutely not. Does this continued patronage of doctors mean that I will actively put money into a Nazi’s pocket? HELL no! Does it mean we shouldn’t hunt them down as war criminals and just let them live a happy and normal life? Certainly not. So why should our nearly unavoidable use of javascript mean that he should get away scott free and make money off of us? Please explain.

  • DarkZephyr

    I don’t know why they are saying he was “fired”. He resigned from his position as CEO of his own free will. Has he been completely let go from the company? I haven’t read anything that says that. But if he was fired, serves him right I say.

  • pierrot

    Brendan Eich has the right to free speech, and that is what the First Amendment guarantees. However, he still has to deal with the consequences of his speech, and the First Amendment does not protect anyone from the aftermath.

  • Hank

    in capitalism is this, right? if the company has bad publicity
    they should fix it if they will not lose customers.

  • Will L

    The fact that he donated, was within his rights and not grounds for termination. However, I would consider it a career-ending move. Their mistake was in subsequently promoting him. I see this separation as a correction of that error – not necessarily firing him for making the donation in the first place. Sux to be him.

  • Ben Dover

    Interestingly, the anti-Eich organizers never thought it would go this far. They seriously expected him to issue a minimally-acceptable apology for his personal views, say he’d “evolved” since ’08 blah blah, something like that. (We’re used to that bs from D politicians, and it works.) And after all, it was only $1,000; it wasn’t like he was the friggin’ Koch Bros. of Prop 8.

    Instead he couldn’t bring himself to put out a pro forma apology, and just quit! Gee, apparently it’s an opinion that is STILL important to him. Well, since he wanted to quit…

  • mawbinatl

    I think the obvious has been understated here. He wasn’t fired per se, he resigned. I’m sure he resigned at the behest of the board and/or the shareholders who see this as a PR catastrophe.

    I don’t begrudge Mr. Eich his freedom of speech and nor should anyone else, but if it’s going to lose gay and gay-friendly advertising dollars, the powers that be saw their bottom line being and their image being damaged. He also went against the company’s code of conduct and/or mission statement to be all inclusive.

    I don’t believe in the gay mafia but I do believe in the power of boycotting and hurting a company, that puts people in a high position with such a bigoted attitude, financially.

    At the end of the day, it’s all about the money. And with more and more people coming being made aware of the discrimination of gay people, many will go with the more ethical, at least in public or on paper.

    Again, he is free to say whatever and support whatever he wants, but when he becomes the head of a major corporation, then it is worrisome on how people in his employee will be treated.

    It’s more complicated than that, I know, but you get the gist.

  • HirsuteOne

    1) He wasn’t fired. He stepped down, according to what’s being disseminated on the Mozilla blog and the Firefox twitter feed. Was he pressured? Of course, and that’s completely OK. Actions have consequences. Freedom of speech allows you to exercise that right without government interference. It’s not shield.

    2) Yes. You can not be the CEO of a forward thinking, progressive company with a inclusive and equality minded ideology and be a secret bigot. It wasn’t a good fit.

    3) It wasn’t just the donation. It was the bigotry behind the donation. Prop 8 was one of the most cruel, vile and hateful actions that have come along in this battle. Not preventing a right, but taking away a right that was already in place. Stripping it away from an entire class of people and families based on nothing gay animus from religious zealots.

    So yeah, zero tears today, tomorrow and always for Eich and the rest of the bigots who fall victim to their own hate, along with zero f**ks about the position Andrew Sullivan is spinning. For someone who is on our team, he is fast becoming a spokesperson for the people who seek to harm us.

    Celie said it very well in The Color Purple: “Everything you done to me, already been done to you.”

  • GeriHew

    @DarkZephyr: I guess my only real point was that boycotting stuff this guy is involved in is a lot easier said than done.

  • coffeeaugur

    First, he was not fired. Second, he quit because of is free speech the free speech of everyone who opposed what he did. He could have apologized but he choose to stick with his bigotry.

  • jwrappaport

    1. Substitute “interracial” for “gay” or “same-sex” in one of Eich’s statements on marriage, and then pose this question to readers. There would be no debate.

    2. The First Amendment applies against government actors, not private citizens. Accordingly, bears no mention here.

    3. I refuse to respect the proposition that intolerance of intolerance is itself intolerant. It isn’t. I will not be tolerant of theocratic fascism and hate-mongering. I will not be tolerant of people who feel that their religion entitles them to withhold my human rights. I will not be tolerant of people who view me with contempt because my romantic partners are men.

    4. “Just because they don’t agree with them.” Can you be morally serious for even an instant? I’m sorry, but we’re not talking about debating changes to the tax code or reducing carbon emissions: we’re talking about the right of an entire class of human beings to live with dignity and equality under the law. This is not one of those things where I can “agree to disagree.” Either I am any man’s equal or I am not – there is no middle ground or reasoned debate coming from the other side.

  • jwrappaport


  • keepcalm

    The First Amendment doesn’t apply. The First Amendment only has to do with government prosecution.

  • AxelDC

    A CEO is not a job. A CEO is a leader and the face of a company. He may be a brilliant coder, but would you want a President who campaigned for Prop 8?

  • Zekester

    The author clearly doesn’t know what “firing” OR “begging the question is! Eich was NOT fired; he RESIGNED. BIG DIFFERENCE. Therefor everything you said based on that flawed claim is a strawman argument. And while I’m pointing out rhetorical fallacies let me point out your misuse of the rhetorical fallacy of “begging the question”. “Begging the question” had NOTHING to do with what you said “begged the question”. Look up “begging the question” to educate yourself as to what the term means. HINT: It has NOTHING to do with a question! In fact your entire article was a case study in begging the question.

  • bobbyjoe

    Another thing Queerty conveniently leaves out is that Pat Buchanan is a notorious anti-Semite. Not to mention countless race-baiting statements Buchanan has published like this one (made just two years ago): “…49 of every 50 muggings and murders in New York are the work of minorities. That might explain why black folks have trouble getting a cab. Every New York cabby must know the odds, should he pick up a man of color at night.”

    So even if the gay part of the equation didn’t exist (though it definitely does), can Queerty pretend to argue with a straight face that there wouldn’t have been a backlash if it was revealed that the head of Mozilla was a contributor to Pat Buchanan (as Eich was) or, say, David Duke?

    Unless you’re a complete suck-up to rightwing bigots, there’s little point in pretending this is a discussion about whether “mean ole gays” went too far. Brendan Eich chose to jump in bed with major bigots and his customers and company didn’t like it. The results would have likely been the same no matter what minority he’d chosen to target, so stop acting like gays are some magic exception.

  • damon459

    I don’t know if anyone else mentioned this since I didn’t read all the comments on this article, but the first amendment does not apply to private employment. Read the first Amendment “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” See where it says congress that make no law? The whole point is you can say just about whatever you want (yes there are limits) and the government can’t punish you within the limits set by the supreme court. Don’t believe me? Try going up to your boss and telling him/her to fuck off and die and see what happens. You might be able to say whatever you want but it does not mean you’re immune to the consequences of your actions. When I was a manager at a company with a non-discrimination policy I once fired a man for wearing a shirt that said “silly faggot dicks are for chicks”, he of course said I violated his free speech rights. He tried to sue and collect unemployment, he lost on both counts for violating company policy and creating a hostile work environment.

  • LibertyGuy

    He is free to spend his $s on whatever causes he wishes. At the same time I am allowed to withhold my support of the business that that supports him. That is the way it works. I am REALLY good and not shopping at or using a product – from marlboro lights to coors to chick filet – dropped them like a bad apple.
    Straight white guys want to blame the gay mafia – they need to wake up – a minority group is demonstrating their right to boycott that is all – gays are good at it – too bad for you – stop whining and start opening your minds!

  • tricky ricky

    replace it with he only donated a thousand dollars to the klan. that’s freedom of speech too and the exact same thing. so, yes, he had to go.

  • DK

    Bullshit rightwing propaganda that Queerty should be ashamed to publish. He didn’t lose his job exercising his first amendment rights, because, first of all, first amendment rights don’t apply in the workplace. There’s no way to exercise those there.

    He lost his job because he helped fund an anti-gay hate campaign that sought to strip gays of equality and deny them freedom while painting them as pedophiles and worse, offending his fellow board members and his employees, making him a liability to his company’s progressive image. House gays like this claptrap’s author and Andrew Sullivan have internalized homophobia and Stockholm Syndrome that prevents them from seeing the Prop 8 hate campaign for what it is — these are the gays who measure their worth by how much homophobes like them and how inoffensive they are to straight people.

    That’s why they insist on spreading the lie that Eich lost his job due to political views. They are irrelevant.

  • timfiskis

    It’s not about freedom of speech – its about conscious consumerism. The First Amendment protects freedom of speech for people – not for corporations. And corporations are not people. Brendan Eich, Paula Dean and the Chick-fil-A guy can think, feel and say whatever they want – our First Amendment protects their right to do that… but their businesses and brands are not protected by the First Amendment – and I hope they never are.

  • atlas

    Let me repeat what my bros. and sis. are saying: this is NOT a First Amendment issue. Pure and simple.

    The First Amendment protects your speech in a public venue, limiting the tactics used by our “protect and serve” agencies. But don’t yell fire.”

    You may legally be fired for speech that is not reflective of your employer. Courts have held that your posts on Facebook and other social sites may be cause for “separation.” Schools may discipline student off-campus behavior.

    You cannot simply say anything you want without potential repercussions.

    Grow up.

Comments are closed.