Hey, gay rights activists: Why are you doing your best to make everyone hate you?
I’m talking about the forced resignation of Mozilla Corp. CEO Brendan Eich. Because six years ago as a private citizen -- I repeat, six years ago as a private citizen -- he contributed $1,000 -- I repeat, $1,000 -- to the campaign for Proposition 8, the approved ballot measure that changed the California Constitution to say that marriage between a man and a woman would be the only kind of marriage that the state would recognize as legal. (The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals later ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional, and the state of California, under Gov. Jerry Brown, refused to defend the measure, so the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 let the 9th Circuit decision stand.)
Nope, the important thing was that Eich opposed, and may well continue to oppose, same-sex marriage. That means he must be publicly denounced, as others who hold views such as his are denounced, as a “homophobe” and “anti-gay.” He also must be driven from his well-earned position as head of the successful company he started -- and indeed from the company itself -- and consigned to ignominy. Nearly 70,000 people signed a petition demanding that Eich be ousted; the online dating site OKCupid temporarily blocked users of Mozilla’s Firefox browser; Mozilla employees tweeted their shock that Eich hadn’t apologized for his 2008 position; and Mozilla board Chairman Mitchell Baker issued an Orwellian statement: “Mozilla believes both in equality [the code word for gay marriage] and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech.” That was the end of Eich.
If this reminds you of China’s Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, except without the official involvement of any government entity, you’re on target.
What’s significant is that this isn’t the first time that gay rights activists have tried, sometimes successfully, to destroy the careers and livelihoods of those who don’t happen to believe in gay marriage. These activists have launched impressive anti-bullying campaigns to protect gays, lesbians and other LGBT types from physical and verbal abuse. But at the same time, they have made same-sex marriage a litmus test for deeming who is for gay rights and who is against them, and they have ruthlessly punished those who flunk the test.
You can oppose gay marriage on religious grounds; you can oppose it on grounds of tradition (no human society ever recognized marriage between two members of the same sex until quite recently); or you can oppose it on practical sociological grounds: that traditional marriage provides important legal recognition for the stable raising of children by their biological parents. You can wholeheartedly support -- as I do -- civil unions, domestic partnerships or any other arrangement that allows people who love each other to enjoy the same easy transfers of property and other rights as married people. You will still be brutally denounced and ostracized. The “anti-bullying” crowd turns out to be the biggest bullies of all.
The bullying of Proposition 8 supporters began nearly the day after the measure passed. Owners and managers of businesses and nonprofits who had donated to support Proposition 8 were threatened with boycotts and in, some cases, pressured to resign. Mormon Church places of worship were vandalized -- because the Latter-day Saints oppose same-sex marriage. More recently, the gay rights organization GLAAD threw its weight behind a 2012 boycott campaign against the fast-food chain Chick-fil-A just because its president, Dan Cathy, opposes “marriage equality” and has contributed to traditional marriage organizations. And most recently of all, A&E; briefly suspended “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson for expressing his Christian belief that homosexual activity is sinful. The Chick-fil-A and Robertson campaigns proved unsuccessful only because their socially conservative customer bases aren’t so susceptible to gay rights intimidation as liberal Silicon Valley.
The only good thing to come out of Eich’s forced resignation is that a number of prominent liberals have been horrified that someone can be ousted from a job merely for expressing his views politically as a private citizen. The openly gay Andrew Sullivan wrote:
“Will he now be forced to walk through the streets in shame? Why not the stocks? 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. If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us.”
Perhaps this is a sign that the current witch-hunt may be wearing itself out -- although too late for Brendan Eich.
Charlotte Allen writes frequently about feminism, politics and religion. Follow her on Twitter @MeanCharlotte.