What Mozilla Has Taught Us
“Opposing gay marriage in America today is not akin to opposing tax hikes or even the war in Afghanistan,” wrote Will Oremus, Slate’s senior tech writer in an altogether typical op-ed applauding the sacking of the “bigoted” Brendan Eich for his support of traditional marriage. “It’s more akin to opposing interracial marriage: It bespeaks a conviction that some people do not deserve the same basic rights as others.”
Last week, Eich could not grovel quite enough to keep his job as CEO of Mozilla, a software enterprise best known for producing the Firefox web browser. He resigned under pressure after “marriage equality” activists revealed that Eich had donated $1,000 to the 2008 Proposition 8 campaign in California. Proposition 8, which passed with more than 52 percent of the vote, amended the California constitution to read, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”
Distressingly few editorialists came to Eich’s defense. Like too many others, Oremus made the case that Eich’s forced departure was somehow anomalous: the tech community, being “socially liberal,” has higher standards than the rest of America. Mozilla chairwoman Mitchell Baker made the same point to justify the sack. “Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard,” said Baker, “and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it.”
Both Oremus and Mitchell seemed to making the case that yielding to the tech mob’s desire for the head of the “bigot” – Oremus’s word – somehow elevated the move or at least justified it. This may be a “different standard” from what we are used to, but there is nothing historically unusual here at all. Fascist mobs routinely reduce the most decent of opponents to cruel stereotypes and demand their exclusion from polite society.
As is often the case with such mobs, there is a certain selectivity about who should be punished. Although he did not support Proposition 8 per se, then-Senator Barack Obama paved the way to its passage when he told Rick Warren’s California congregation in August 2008, “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian, it’s also a sacred union. God’s in the mix.” Black voters, who turned out in record numbers to support Obama, voted overwhelmingly for the amendment and made victory possible.
“Mr. Eich,” lectures the sanctimonious Oremus, “right now we’re in a world where you have to not be a bigot if you want to be an effective leader of an organization like Mozilla.” Should that same standard not be applied to the president of the United States? The craven Obama did not “evolve” out of his “sacred union” position until 2012, when the polls told him it was safe to do so.
The Christian-led civil rights movement took decades of patient appeals to biblical and constitutional principles before it prevailed. Although its leaders suffered mightily along the way, they eventually persuaded America that it was both un-Christian and unconstitutional to deny people full human rights based on their race.
The “marriage equality” movement has made no such case, because it has no such case. It has no grounding in the Constitution. It defies the very tenets of Christianity. And its leaders have suffered little more than the occasional unkind tweet. To throw out empty clichés like “marriage equality” or insulting jibes like “The Bible also says that eating shellfish is an abomination” shows just how intellectually bankrupt the movement is.
At some point in the near future, “equality” activists and Christians will meet on the battlefield of Matthew 19. In making the case against divorce, Jesus himself made an eloquent case for traditional marriage.
“Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,” Jesus told the Pharisees, “And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
Here, Jesus was reinforcing the message of Genesis that in marriage, man and woman are “no more twain” but rather “one flesh,” a status that eludes even the most devoted of gay couples. This tradition dates back at least three millennia and quite likely to the beginning of human history. Western civilization is based on this understanding. To ask its adherents to abandon the tradition for the sake of a fad, no matter how ruthless, is to ask for more than one will get.
The Roman Catholic Church openly backed Proposition 8, as did the Knights of Columbus, the Mormon Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, and Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church. The leaders of some of these institutions may yield under relentless social pressure, as many of their younger adherents have already done, but at some point, there will be no more ground to give.
Gay contrarian Andrew Sullivan anticipates the likely future. “Why not the stocks?” he asks. “The whole episode disgusts me – as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society. If this is the gay rights movement today – hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else – then count me out.”
Well said, Andrew, except that the religious right does not deserve the comparison.