In a statement published this afternoon to her corporate blog, Mozilla chairwoman Mitchell Baker announced that CEO Brendan Eich has stepped down. Baker’s statement opens:
Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves. 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. Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO. He’s made this decision for Mozilla and our community. Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.
What’s next for Mozilla’s leadership is still being discussed. We want to be open about where we are in deciding the future of the organization and will have more information next week. However, our mission will always be to make the Web more open so that humanity is stronger, more inclusive and more just: that’s what it means to protect the open Web. We will emerge from this with a renewed understanding and humility — our large, global, and diverse community is what makes Mozilla special, and what will help us fulfill our mission. We are stronger with you involved. Thank you for sticking with us.
Today’s move comes ten days after Eich was named Mozilla’s CEO. LGBT groups, gay Mozilla staffers, and gay developers immediately called for a boycott of Mozilla over Eich’s apparently unrepentant donation to the Proposition 8 campaign in 2008. But when Eich issued a statement expressing solidarity for the LGBT community (albeit without publicly reversing on marriage equality or apologizing for the donation), calls for his resignation and boycotts of Mozilla spread into the anti-gay, Christian, and Tea Party worlds, creating a bizarre and unprecedented situation in which groups that are regularly tearing into each others’ throats were suddenly and unwillingly thrust onto the same side. Almost everybody (noted exception: Brian Brown) wanted Eich gone – but for very different reasons.
Today’s move will surely satisfy many LGBT activists. But don’t think for a minute that this story is over, because the screams of “homofascism” that we regularly hear are now going to grow much louder and the Eich saga will surely echo into future battles. Some of us may even come to view today as having been a Pyrrhic victory as Eich will doubtlessly be canonized by our enemies and his name will become a rallying cry.
As least we’ll have the short term amusement of watching hate group leaders who last week called for Eich’s head turn swiftly on their heels to scream about the intolerant gaystapo.