People upset by the passage of Proposition 8, the anti-gay marriage initiative, protest at the California State Capitol in Sacramento on November 9, 2008.

COMMENTARY: Bullies drove Mozilla's Brendan Eich from public square

(RNS) Should the 7 million Californians who voted for Proposition 8 in 2008 all be fired?

I'm not joking -- or even fear-mongering.

People upset by the passage of Proposition 8, the anti-gay marriage initiative, protest at the California State Capitol in Sacramento on November 9, 2008.

People upset by the passage of Proposition 8, the anti-gay marriage initiative, protest at the California State Capitol in Sacramento on November 9, 2008.

Thursday (April 3), the chief executive of Mozilla, Brendan Eich, resigned his job due to intense pressure from activists who want to redefine marriage. What outraged the activists was something Eich did six years ago: He made $1,000 donation in support of Proposition 8, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Eich's views on same-sex marriage earned him the ire of dating website OkCupid, which drew attention to Eich's position by urging their members not to use Mozilla's internet browser, Firefox, to visit the dating site.

Eich's position, let us remember, is not some extreme mindset. It is a position that until 2012 was shared by none other than President Barack Obama (who only announced his evolution after Vice President Joe Biden's comments on the topic made it impossible for him to dodge the question any longer). Across the country, thirty-three states define marriage as a union of a man and a woman.

In California, it was not some small, bigoted population that voted for Proposition 8, but a diverse coalition. According to exit polls, seven out of ten African-American voters backed Prop 8, as did over half of Latino voters.

And now, just six years later, supporting Proposition 8 is a position deemed by some to be so extreme that a company apparently felt they could not justify having a CEO who believed that.

Regardless of your views on same-sex marriage, is that the culture you want, one where those who disagree that marriage should be redefined feel they cannot vote or speak according to their beliefs, where they are societal outcasts because of this one position?

Diversity of views is a hallmark of American life. We don't agree on taxes, income inequality, welfare, Obamacare and a thousand other issues – and so we debate them in elections, on talk shows and in town halls. That's how it should be.

But we shouldn't call for those who disagree with us to be fired and excluded, banished from polite society.

The disagreement over same-sex marriage is not about bigotry toward anyone. It's about what marriage is. Many people, whether by reason of religious beliefs or secular traditional views, see the institution of marriage as being between a man and a woman. They believe that children are best served by having a mother and a father.

Americans' views on the matter may continue to evolve. (Or, as in the case of abortion, it might happen that views settle and the country ends up divided for the long-term on this issue.) But it's not an idea that should oust people from the public square.

We often work with people whose views we don't agree with, people who have views on matters ranging from religion to politics to whether it's ok to give a child a pacifier or whether Justin Bieber should be deported. We shouldn't bully our co-workers -- and our other fellow Americans -- into agreeing with us.

Instead, the goal should be to change hearts and minds -- one genuine conversation at a time.

(Katrina Trinko, a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors, is managing editor for The Foundry. Her views do not represent The Heritage Foundation.)



  1. With all due respect Ms. Trinko, civil liberties are not a subject which can be limited to polite dry discussion. They are by their nature personal, inflammatory and personal to people.

    It is complete bullcrap to claim “The disagreement over same-sex marriage is not about bigotry toward anyone.” In California, you would be talking about a law to deliberately turn a group which was recognized by law into outcasts. There is nothing but bigotry behind such a policy.

    You are always entitled to voice your opinion but there is no entitlement for it to be respected or free of criticism and social sanction by the public. As for the boycott of Firefox, that was completely under the public radar. There was more of an effect on conservative news commenters having a story about it than having a tangible effect on the company.

    You want to give bigotry the color of law but you don’t want to be criticized for it. Tough luck. Proposition 8 amounted to stripping rights which had already existed for Californians, there is no way to look upon its support as anything but spiteful and bigoted. This was not a reasonable law with rational objectives. It was deliberately discriminatory and malicious in nature. It was not a small population which voted for it, but its motives were not above board. Just because one has large numbers doesn’t mean bigotry is non-existent or ruled out as a motivating factor. Your argument is merely phony appeal to incredulity.

    This is why civil liberties are never meant to be subject to popular vote. We have constitutional freedoms because it is the minority opinion which needs to be protected. The majority protects itself well enough by voting its interests.

  2. In these days of unlimited corporate contributions, of media outlets controlled by individuals promoting the right or left, of a handful of very rich men using their wealth to shift the body politic in a way that favors them, we very much need to pay attention to who holds the strings of power in the United States. The average person making a contribution for a cause they believe in should be a good thing. Mr Eich’s contribution was only $1,000; hardly likely to sway the vote in California one way or the other. However, given the current climate, one can fairly ask if he could keep his opinions from shaping the direction of Mozilla.

  3. Bah. It wasn’t about his view on marriage, but his participation in a campaign to strip 18,000 couples of their marriages, including mine, already concluded under the then-laws of the state.

    Oh, and for the record, my marriage was done in my church (UCC). What about the infringement on my church, which was, subsequent to Prop 8’s passage, unable to conduct such ceremonies with any legal standing?

  4. Now we see who the bullies really are. Of course they will deny it.

  5. The idea that marriage is a ‘right’ that ought to be extended to same sex couples as a civil liberties issue is debatable. Your characterization of the opposition surely doesn’t fit Mr. Eich, nor does it characterize the best reasons for opposing the redefinition of marriage in this way. Calling people who disagree with you bigots may be an effective bullying tactic, but it doesn’t stand up to reason. I would encourage any one who really wants to know what are the good secular reasons for defending “traditional” marriage to read the book “What is Marriage?” by Girgis, Anderson, and George and make up their own minds.

  6. These people were no more bullies than those who pushed World Vision to flip flop on allowing gay married employees. Want to see bullies, then look at Hobby Lobby bullying its employees. There’s an example of a powerful family pushing people around.

  7. There is indeed no middle ground, Larry. You make that perfectly clear.

    War has been declared upon Christians.

  8. The UCC is not a church. It’s as simple as that.

  9. If we can separate the question of marriage for a moment, isn’t it logical that as CEO he is paid to have his opinions shape the company’s policies?

  10. If they (the employees) are unhappy with the human resource policies of their employer, are free to seek employment elsewhere.

  11. You blatantly misrepresent the facts of the Prop 8 situation or chose to ignore them entirely. The idea that marriage is a right is well established by law. No need for scare quotes. It only shows a level of ignorance of rather famous law written half a century ago.

    It is one thing to not affirmatively extend the right by legislation to gays (no such law on the books), its another to foreclose the possibility of doing so under the law (a ban), even worse is to strip the right where it already existed (repealing a law).

    Prop 8 involved taking away a right which already existed. This makes it far worse than simply debating to extend marriage equality in an affirmative fashion as you wanted to do.

    This was not simply choosing not to extend a right but to attack those who have already benefited from it and to keep others from doing so. There was no rational or secular purpose behind it. So Mr. Eich’s position is worthy of insult because it chose to invalidate the rights of people which were already there. It was nothing short of an attack on the rights of people of the state of California.

    Calling someone a bigot when they are acting in accordance with prejudice is not bullying. Its being honest. If the people who disagreed with me on this issue had rational, honest and secular motives for wanting to affect the laws of the land, I would not be calling them names. But they don’t.

    You certainly didn’t feel the need to cough up anything resembling one. Instead you appeal to authority. Dressing up irrational nonsensical arguments has been the hallmark of the anti-marriage equality position. So much so that they seem unable to come up with coherent defenses of it in legal arguments when it matters. There is a maliciousness to them which has become all but obvious to our courts.

    Notice that gay marriage is becoming more prevalent not due to states passing laws to that effect, but of courts striking down affirmative bans for it. The ironic thing is that had the anti-marriage equality set not been so rabid in seeking to attack gays under the color, they would have succeeded in keeping gay marriage out of those states.Legislative inaction would have done the job for them.

  12. If the employer is unhappy with the laws of the land, they are free to lobby for their repeal.

    So Edward, if a company has unsafe work conditions, blatantly discriminates or cheats employees out of pay and benefits they would be entitled to under the law, they have no other recourse than to leave? I think there are a bunch of labor lawyers and government officials who would beg to differ.

  13. Ecumenical as always, Doc.

    The UCC is a 50+ year ok’d Christian denomination. It’s as simple as that.

  14. Thank you. These are good points that should be made. Discrimination goes both ways.

  15. How many times is some anti-gay gonna WHINE that his or her intended LGBT victims are “the real bullies” for standing up for equality?

  16. Nonesense, Michael, that debate is long over. Marriage has been defined as a Constitutionally protected civil right by the United States Supreme Court 15 times since 1888. Please note the last example is of the marriage of two American women.

    Maynard v. Hill, 125 U.S. 190, 205, 211 (1888)
    Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 399 (1923)
    Skinner v. Oklahoma ex rel. Williamson, 316 U.S. 535, 541 (1942)
    Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 486 (1965)
    Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1, 12 (1967)
    Boddie v. Connecticut, 401 U.S. 371, 376, 383 (1971)
    Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur, 414 U.S. 632, 639-40 (1974)
    Moore v. City of East Cleveland, 431 U.S. 494, 499 (1977)
    Carey v. Population Services International, 431 U.S. 678, 684-85 (1977)
    Zablocki v. Redhail, 434 U.S. 374, 384 (1978)
    Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 95 (1987)
    Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833, 851 (1992)
    M.L.B. v. S.L.J., 519 U.S. 102, 116 (1996)
    Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558, 574 (2003)
    United States v Windsor 570 U.S. (2013)

  17. And, Michael, you wrote:

    “Calling people who disagree with you bigots may be an effective bullying tactic”

    That’s the gist of Ms. Trinko’s specious claims.

  18. The only Christians who are under attack are those who WANT to marry same gender couples NOW:

    Affirming Pentecostal Church International
    Alliance of Christian Churches
    Anointed Affirming Independent Ministries
    The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists
    Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
    Community of Christ
    Conservative Judaism
    Ecumenical Catholic Church
    Ecumenical Catholic Communion
    The Episcopal Church
    Evangelical Anglican Church In America
    Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
    Global Alliance of Affirming Apostolic Pentecostals
    Inclusive Orthodox Church
    Metropolitan Community Church
    Old Catholic Church
    Progressive Christian Alliance
    Reconciling Pentecostals International
    Reconstructionist Judaism
    Reform Judaism
    Reformed Anglican Catholic Church
    Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
    Unitarian Universalist Church
    United Church of Christ
    Unity Church

  19. Three Mozilla board members resigned, stating publicly their decisions had nothing to do with Eich’s attempt to subvert the United States Constitution but because he lacks the needed management skills. He is no longer being paid for his nasty opinions, but not just for the reason anti-gays are whining about.

  20. It’s so sad to see how anti-gays will make such vicious attacks at anyone who won’t help them hurt LGBT Americans.

  21. Will you pay their bills for the months to years they are out of work, Edward Borges-Silva?????

  22. Please document just when LGBT Americans cooked up a Hate Vote to deprive anti-gays of their Constitutionally protected right to marry the person they love.

  23. I disagree with you. I can’t begin to express how much I disagree with you. I don’t believe homosexuality is right. Science doesn’t prove homosexuality. The infamous gay gene has not been found. Ultimately, homosexual expression is a choice. One chooses to act upon their homosexual affections. I am so damn tired of folks like you and others who are imposing your wrongful views on our culture. I will fight to my death against your kind of bullying and wrongful view about homosexuality.

  24. It’s all about the definition of marriage. You make assumptions about what marriage is that are debatable.

  25. You’re free to believe what you want, whether homosexuality is legitimate or whether the earth is 6,000 years old. But if you live in the USA, there is this nagging thing in the 14th Amendment about not denying US citizens equal protection under the law and due process — not to mention the Establishment Clause in the 1st Amendment, where a sectarian view of religion is not to be official policy. Free exercise of religion doesn’t mean dominion over others’ households.

  26. That is a bullcrap answer. Marriage is a state of being defined by law in a rather explicit and clear manner.

    Its about civil liberties and how they are extended to people. Again, its not like the marriage equality opponents bother with honest rational and secular arguments to support their position.

  27. “Again, its not like the marriage equality opponents bother with honest rational and secular arguments to support their position.”

    Yes they do. The book I cited, which Larry simply dismissed as an “appeal to authority” does exactly that. It’s just that others insist on demonizing any and all who disagree with them instead of giving them an honest and fair reading and response. There are people like this on both sides of the issue. You can’t reason with them. Brendan Eich is not a bigot. He, and others like him, don’t deserve this kind of treatment.

  28. Saying, “its in a book” is not a real answer. Its just being lazy. Its an appeal to authority which does not demand to be taken seriously.

    Did you have any views/arguments of your own which you can state? Obviously you did not. If you can’t cough up an argument of your own that can be stated here, I have no reason to bother. You can be dismissed.

    There are two sides to the issue. But that doesn’t mean they have equal weight. IMO, one side deserves being demonized for engaging in divisive politics of prejudice and trying to attack the civil liberties of a group. There is no reasoning involved there. No point in carrying around the pretense there is.

    Brendon Eich contributed money to strip existing civil rights from people in California. That is bigotry. Is it worthy of ouster? It depends on how much business Mozilla stood to lose from the PR stink. That is debatable.

  29. They should be thankful they have a job at all. Many do not.

  30. “Saying, ‘its in a book’ is not a real answer. Its just being lazy. Its an appeal to authority which does not demand to be taken seriously.”

    Here you’re just wrong, Larry. Telling others about a good source of information is not being lazy. I’m just telling those who care to do so and are willing to give a fair reading to 109 short pages of text (aside from the copious footnotes) where they can find honest, rational and secular arguments for a view of marriage that is opposed to yours. If they aren’t interested enough to do that, I don’t mind. I won’t even call them ‘lazy.’ But I do think they would be missing a valuable opportunity to understand some good reasons why one would oppose same sex marriage, whether or not they accept them. I don’t care to reproduce them here, on a comment board for a news article, just for being goaded into it by those who, like you, don’t seem interested and would rather take the ad hominem route, arguing instead about why no one should have to seriously listen to others who disagree with them. There are plenty of people, on both sides of this issue, who do this. The book is not for them. It’s for people who “see the marriage debate as one between people of sound mind and character who disagree on the solution to what they agree is a debate worth having.”

    I’m not asking anyone to take my word for it. They can read and decide for themselves and they can follow the discussion on the web site if they want. I’m satisfied with giving others an opportunity to decide the merits for themselves, hoping that it will, at least keep people from treating other good people badly … and justifying such treatment.

  31. Michael, you are wasting bandwidth and time.

    Saying someone else has something resembling a rational argument, for your position mind you, is not the same as presenting anything of the sort.

    Just because someone claims to have a rational argument, doesn’t mean they exist. That book you cited uses nonsense arguments which have been soundly thrashed in various reviews. Its crap. Your unwillingness to cite even one of its arguments seems proof of that.
    So no, I am not taking your word for it at all. You have not given me a reason to take you seriously.

    You have no such arguments of your own to present at all?
    Not one premise? Not one view? Not one statement of beliefs?

    If you can’t present a rational, secular argument of your own, I have no reason to believe your point of view has one.

    All this dancing around a simple request to explain your view is merely demonstrating that you don’t have a rational or secular argument to make.

    You are full of it.

  32. “That book you cited uses nonsense arguments which have been soundly thrashed in various reviews. Its crap.”

    Proves nothing. It’s also been soundly defended in various reviews and in responses to criticism. People shouldn’t take my word for it or yours. They won’t really know what to think unless they read it for themselves, right? Or should they just let you do their thinking for them?

  33. I can post links to people refuting all of those arguments claimed by the book you cited. So what?

    All it proves is you are lazy and dishonest.

    The Atlantic article is junk about using stigma to political advantage. No help for you there. Nothing in your own words. You really have no argument or opinion of your own.

    Maybe if you came up with something of an original thought on the subject instead of hiding behind appeals to authority, you would have a chance of being taken seriously. The authors of the book didn’t post here, you did. If you can’t give your own views on a subject, I have no reason to care.

    If there are so many rational and secular arguments for your POV out there, you should have been able to name a single one and explain it in your own words. But you obviously can’t.

    Either give me an argument, in your words, showing a rational and secular argument for your view or don’t bother responding.

  34. But then you are as lazy as I am. You appeal to the authority of reviewers who share your views, not even having read the book itself. The second link you post here is a response to the first article from one of the authors of the book. Did you bother reading it? I think everyone should read both of them and draw their own conclusions. The first author, Chappell, raises good questions but also descends in to name calling and blatant disrespect. Girgis, in response, seems genuinely grateful for the criticism and doesn’t respond in kind. I think Girgis’ response is a good one. One that Chappell briefly and unfairly, I think, dismisses in a single statement, leaving the refutation as an “exercise” for his readers.

    You won’t even listen to someone who agrees with your position on marriage (the author of the two Atlantic articles that I posted links to) that people who disagree should not be treated as bigots. You just call it junk with no argument of your own. Your behavior here is a sad illustration of the real problem: Not that people disagree, but the way they disagree.

  35. The second link Larry posts is in response to this article:

    Rather than say “so what” as Larry does, I think it’s good to read them all. Including the original book. It sure beats the low level of discourse that this news article describes, which Larry has spent so much time defending.

  36. Nice try but your facts are wrong. The California gay community ALREADY HAD all the rights of marriage under the California domestic partnership which had been in effect for many years before the passage of Prop 8. The domestic partnership law remained in tact AFTER THE PASSAGE OF Prop 8. Prop 8 was about a WORD. It is so disingenuous that this gay community keeps saying its rights were taken away with Prop 8. NO RIGHTS WERE TAKEN AWAY WITH PROP 8. The domestic partnership law was KEPT IN TACT with the passage of Prop 8. You guys just keep losing credibility when you distort this issue so much. And you lose sympathy when your LIBERAL DOGMATIC ATTITUDES demands complete intolerance of anyone who disagrees with you.

  37. Listen to you? You haven’t said jack. You have no thoughts of your own that I should give a flying crap about. Despite repeatedly asking you to give an actual argument, in your own words, you balked.

    Buzz off, you have nothing of value to say.

  38. “Separate but equal”, hmmm where have we heard that before?

    The domestic partnership law did not create the equivalent of marriage under the law. It was clearly inferior and meant to be so. More importantly Prop 8 served no rational or secular purpose other than to attack gays.

    California had recognized gay marriages 18,000 of them. You are a liar Donna. You might want to educate yourself with the Prop 8 appeals ruling.

    What is really funny is that the efforts to ban gay marriage under the color of law has accelerated its acceptance. The marriage equality opponents lack any kind of legitimate legal argument. Every time a legislative ban gets challenged in court, it gets struck down and reverses its intention. Spreading the legality of marriage equality to more states.

    If the bigots had just kept their mouths shut and their money in their wallets, they would have succeeded or at least slowed it down. They could have taken advantage of legislative lethargy to keep states from passing bills legalizing it.

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