Facing mounting criticism over his donation to an anti-gay marriage proposition in California in 2008, Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich said today he will continue to serve in the role unless Mozilla's board asks him to step aside. In an interview with CNET, Eich declined to discuss his personal beliefs, but said he should not be disqualified from his job for his personal beliefs. "Beliefs that are protected, that include political and religious speech, are generally not something that can held be against even against a CEO," Eich said, in his first interview since the controversy erupted. He added: "I understand there are people who disagree with me on this one."
"Mozilla has always worked according to the principles of inclusiveness."
Eich is now trying to persuade Mozilla and the broader open-source community that a CEO can be effective even when one of his more prominent beliefs is at odds with, and hurtful to, a significant portion of that community. In the interview, he argues that Mozilla's founding principle of "inclusiveness" entitles him to the same respect he says he shows his LGBT colleagues. "Mozilla has always worked according to principles of inclusiveness," he said. "It may be challenging for a CEO, but everyone in our community can have different beliefs about all sorts of things that may be in conflict. They leave them at the door when they come to work on the Mozilla mission."
Eich also said the fact that half of Mozilla's board quit before Eich's appointment was made public was not related to his beliefs about gay marriage. "Three board members ended their terms for a variety of reasons," he said. "Two were planning to leave for some time." Eich says it remains to be seen whether pressure from the community forces his ouster. But given another chance to offer support of gay marriage, he wouldn't take it. Asked whether he would support Prop. 8 today, Eich responded, "I hadn't thought about that. It seems that's a dead issue. I don't want to answer hypotheticals."