OKCupid pulls Firefox boycott letter

Firefox users are no longer being urged to boycott the browser after OKCupid protested the anti-gay views expressed by Mozilla's new CEO.

Mozilla CEO and JavaScript founder Brendan Eich
Mozilla CEO and JavaScript founder Brendan Eich Stephen Shankland/CNET
OKCupid has removed a letter that only Firefox users could see asking them to change browsers over the anti-gay marriage politics of Brendan Eich, Mozilla's newly appointed CEO.

The letter first appeared Monday to protest Eich's elevation to the chief executive role because of a 2008 donation he made in support of Proposition 8, California anti-gay marriage bill. Eich, a Mozilla co-founder and its chief technology officer until his promotion, came under fire by Mozilla employees, independent Firefox developers, and OKCupid for a 2008 donation in support of the voter-approved Proposition 8. His donation become part of the public record in 2009. The bill was later overturned by the courts in 2013.

Eich said in an exclusive interview with CNET yesterday that "[w]ithout getting into my personal beliefs, which I separate from my Mozilla work -- when people learned of the donation, they felt pain. I saw that in friends' eyes, [friends] who are LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender]. I saw that in 2012. I am sorry for causing that pain."

OKCupid declined to comment, saying only that the company would issue a statement in "the next few days." A call placed to co-founder Christian Rudder was not immediately returned.

However, Eich's statements to CNET, his previous blog post citing an "active commitment to equality in everything we do," and a similarly themed post by Mozilla board chair Mitchell Baker that expressed shock at Eich's personal political beliefs did not assuage all criticisms.

Hampton Catlin, who with his husband comprises the development firm Rarebit, said that they were "really disappointed" in Eich's statements to CNET.

"He fended off the question [of whether he would vote 'yes' on Prop. 8 again] without answering, which leads me to believe that he is totally unwilling to empathize with those of us who suffered under the law," Catlin said in an e-mail to CNET.

"After having the meeting, I was truly surprised to see him double down on his original position of sticking his fingers in his ear and saying 'inclusion' over and over again," he said.

Catlin's description of the conversation underlined the complexity of the situation. He described the meeting as "productive," and said that he hoped sharing "our personal story" with Eich would have changed his position on the laws.

"I asked him to just issue a statement that his personal, private beliefs remained the same about what a traditional family is, but that he recognized that we should not legislate morality and that those laws had a tangible negative effect on people," Catlin said. "Instead, he fell back to his defensive position and refuses to apologize for helping to fund a law that actively discriminated against his own employees and community."

"I really don't feel like we're asking for a lot with a simple apology and recognition that legislating traditional morality has unintended effects on real people," he said.

Mozilla declined to comment for this story.

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The full text of OKCupid's letter to its Firefox users. Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt and James Martin/CNET

 

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