Anyone who has recently attempted to access dating site OkCupid using a Firefox browser has been greeted with the following message:
This is a statement that’s pretty hard to miss–not only does it reach every single Firefox user attempting to log in to the dating service, but it calls attention to the inequality in question by literally blocking people from seeking companionship with the same ease and freedom as others.
As OkCupid explains in its complete roadblock message (below), Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, made a $1,000 donation to support California’s Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment that banned gay marriage in 2008 (it was ruled unconstitutional and overturned in 2010). In recent days, Mozilla has made attempts to distance itself from its new CEO’s past actions by releasing statements like this recent blog post, which reads in part:
“Mozilla’s mission is to make the Web more open so that humanity is stronger, more inclusive and more just. This is why Mozilla supports equality for all, including marriage equality for LGBT couples. No matter who you are or who you love, everyone deserves the same rights and to be treated equally.
We realize that not everyone in our community or who uses our products will agree with this…Mozilla has always worked to be a welcoming community, committed to inclusiveness and equality for all people. One voice will not limit opportunity for anyone. That was true yesterday and will be true tomorrow.”
But if that “one voice” belongs to a company’s CEO, it’s bound to get some attention, and OkCupid’s message to Firefox users explains its take on the bigger picture. The message reads in its entirety:
“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.
Politics is normally not the business of a website, and we all know there’s a lot more wrong with the world than misguided CEOs. So you might wonder why we’re asserting ourselves today. This is why: we’ve devoted the last ten years to bringing people—all people—together. If individuals like Mr. Eich had their way, then roughly 8% of the relationships we’ve worked so hard to bring about would be illegal. Equality for gay relationships is personally important to many of us here at OkCupid. But it’s professionally important to the entire company. OkCupid is for creating love. Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame, and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.
If you want to keep using Firefox, the link at the bottom will take you through to the site.
However, we urge you to consider different software for accessing OkCupid.
In 2008, Mr. Eich supported the passage of California’s Prop 8, a statewide initiative to ban gay marriage, with a $1000 donation. Granted, his contribution is now six years in the past, and people can change. But Mr. Eich’s boilerplate statements in the time since make it seem like he has the same views now as he did then. Mozilla recently promoted him to CEO, hence the issue only now coming to our attention. His donation was known to Mozilla at the time of his promotion, and, furthermore, CEOs are rewarded based on their company’s performance. The CEO is the visionary for a company and its products. We are sad to think that any OkCupid page loads would even indirectly contribute towards the success of an individual who supported Prop 8—and who for all we know would support it again. We wish Mozilla’s institutional commitment to freedom and openness were better reflected by their choice of leadership.”
In response, a Mozilla released the following statement:
“Mozilla supports equality for all, including marriage equality for LGBT couples. No matter who you are or who you love, everyone deserves the same rights and to be treated equally. OKcupid never reached out to us to let us know of their intentions, nor to confirm facts.”
On one hand, is it possible for someone to have changed his views since 2008? Of course. On the other hand, is it naive of a company to believe that it can truly be viewed as completely separate from its CEO’s opinions and actions? Of course. And considering one of Mozilla’s own board members stepped down in protest of Eich’s hiring due to the same issue, we wonder whether the company inherited more controversy than it bargained for.