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Brendan Eich, the newly named CEO of the software firm Mozilla Corporation, resigned from the post after angering gay rights activists and some in the tech industry for his opposition to same-sex marriage.
Eich's views on gay marriage came to light in the days following his appointment last week to run Mozilla, best-known for its Firefox browser. News re-emerged of a $1,000 donation he made in 2008 supporting California's Proposition 8, an anti-gay marriage referendum.
Since then two former Mozilla developers and the dating site OKCupid, among others, have publicly condemned the software development firm for appointing a known supporter of the anti-gay law -- voters passed Prop 8, but it was later shot down by the Supreme Court. Critics urged that web users try a different browser.
Mozilla initially tried to bat away concerns about Eich's ideology .
The company explained in a blog post on Thursday:
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.
Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness. We welcome contributions from everyone regardless of age, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, language, race, sexual orientation, geographical location and religious views. Mozilla supports equality for all.
We have employees with a wide diversity of views. Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions in public. This is meant to distinguish Mozilla from most organizations and hold us to a higher standard. But this time we failed to listen, to engage, and to be guided by our community.
While painful, the events of the last week show exactly why we need the web. So all of us can engage freely in the tough conversations we need to make the world better.
We need to put our focus back on protecting that Web. And doing so in a way that will make you proud to support Mozilla.
While there is no clear replacement in line for CEO, Mozilla executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker insisted that the company is not without options, saying in an interview this morning that "[t]here are certainly very talented people we have talked to, so we are not at ground zero by any means."