Mozilla CEO steps down after anti-gay marriage controversy

The Mozilla chief executive is resigning after igniting a firestorm among gay marriage supporters.

Brendan Eich
Brendan Eich

Less than two weeks after becoming CEO of Mozilla, Brendan Eich has stepped down after facing a firestorm of backlash for his support of California’s anti-gay marriage law Proposition 8.

Mozilla, maker of the Firefox web browser, posted a message on its company blog Thursday announcing Eich’s departure.

"Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it," wrote executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker. "We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better."

Baker said Eich chose to step down "for Mozilla and our community."

Earlier this week, Eich said in interviews that he would not resign over the controversy.

"I don't want to talk about my personal beliefs because I kept them out of Mozilla all these 15 years we've been going," he told the Guardian.

Eich made a $1,000 donation in 2008 supporting the Prop 8 ballot, which banned same-sex marriage in California. The Supreme Court overturned the measure last year.

While Eich’s political donation has been public knowledge since 2012, Mozilla ignited uproar among employees and consumers after naming him chief executive on March 24. Online dating site OkCupid took an aggressive stance against Mozilla earlier this week by urging visitors using Firefox to boycott the browser. OkCupid has since pulled the boycott letter.

With Eich’s departure, Mozilla can focus on repairing its reputation among staffers, consumers, and businesses. Regaining the public’s trust might take a while, but Mozilla must emphasize transparency and consider the issues that are important to users and employees.

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