OkCupid Co-Founder Sam Yagan Apologizes For Supporting Anti-Gay Candidate

Earlier today it was revealed that OK Cupid's co-founder and CEO Sam Yagan once donated $500 to anti-gay Utah Republican Chris Cannon, a politician who supports a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, opposes protections against sexual-orientation based job discrimination and is against gay adoptions.

YaganIn a statement sent to The Huffington Post, Yagan said he did not know about the candidate's anti-gay record at the time he made the contribution, and was more interested in Cannon's stance on intellectual property issues:

"A decade ago, I made a contribution to Representative Chris Cannon because he was the ranking Republican on the House subcommittee that oversaw the Internet and Intellectual Property, matters important to my business and our industry. I accept responsibility for not knowing where he stood on gay rights in particular; I unequivocally support marriage equality and I would not make that contribution again today. However, a contribution made to a candidate with views on hundreds of issues has no equivalence to a contribution supporting Prop 8, a single issue that has no purpose other than to affirmatively prohibit gay marriage, which I believe is a basic civil right."

Yagan's company famously blocked the Firefox web-browser after discovering that the company's since-resigned CEO Brendan Eich made a $1,000 donation to the 2008 Proposition 8 campaign outlawing same-sex marriage in California. Unlike Yagan, Eich never apologized for his donation to a solely anti-gay cause.

Comments

  1. Jay says

    I understand the outrage of donations to harmful measures like Proposition 8. But it is disingenuous to target individuals for their donations to candidates, most of us aren’t single issue voters. I know I’m not. This witch hunt is got to stop.

  2. Brian1 says

    I don’t understand why those of you who were up in arms in the previous post are now ok with this. It was abundantly clear in the previous post that this was a non-issue, and in this post the guy just explains what anyone with a functioning brain would have already known.

    Now that this guy is off the hook, I just went over to open secrets to look up campaign contributions. First one I looked for was Eric Schmidt, and it took a minute to see he contributes to a bunch of republicans (and more democrats). And the first one i looked up, Bob Goodlatte, supports a federal ban on gay marriage. So let’s all boycott Google! But keep in mind you can do this for every company in the US and those of you obsessed about boycotts will end up having to boycott absolutely everything.

  3. will says

    I’m going to re-post a previous comment one more time — then I’ll get off my soapbox and put this issue behind. I do not believe Brendan Eich is an anti-gay monster or anything close. I think we could have been less callous in our response (us; the gay community; Mozilla aside) — we might have even had a dialogue with Mozilla that we are forgiving of Eich’s past (at least, in theory — I know many of you are not ready to be forgiving).

    This is what Brandon Eich wrote himself between the time the controversy erupted and his forced resignation. I just want you all to be aware of his statement & I have no other agenda. I don’t want to see our movement veer off into continuous witch hunts in the future.

    (by Brendan Eich)
    ———-

    Here are my commitments, and here’s what you can expect:

    •Active commitment to equality in everything we do, from employment to events to community-building.
    •Working with LGBT communities and allies, to listen and learn what does and doesn’t make Mozilla supportive and welcoming.
    •My ongoing commitment to our Community Participation Guidelines, our inclusive health benefits, our anti-discrimination policies, and the spirit that underlies all of these.
    •My personal commitment to work on new initiatives to reach out to those who feel excluded or who have been marginalized in ways that makes their contributing to Mozilla and to open source difficult. More on this last item below.

    I know some will be skeptical about this, and that words alone will not change anything. I can only ask for your support to have the time to “show, not tell”; and in the meantime express my sorrow at having caused pain … I am committed to ensuring that Mozilla is, and will remain, a place that includes and supports everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, economic status, or religion.

    ———-

    And one last comment from Andrew Sullivan:

    “Eich begged for mercy; he asked to be given a fair shot to prove he wasn’t David Duke; he directly interacted with those he had hurt. He expressed sorrow… He pledged to do all he could to make amends. But none of this is ever enough for Inquisitions – and it wasn’t enough in this case. His mind and conscience were the problem. He had to change them or leave.”

    Let’s find it within ourselves to be less quick to jump and attack in the future, less bloodthirsty, assuming the worst in past non-supporters.

  4. BETTY says

    MIKE RYAN: you are the LAST person who should be giving his approval on apologies. Have YOU apologized to Bille Jean King for your incorrect accusations against her?

  5. John says

    I think Ari Waldman has made the most cohesive statement so far about why this is not just a gay issue. There were so many missteps by Mozilla, the biggest being trying to equate workplace diversity with marriage equality; but you also have to take into account the SV realties of the day, namely broader themes of inequality like income disparity. We live in an age where average San Franciscans jokingly say the only one who will be allowed to use the new Bay Bridge is Steve Jobs ghost (and by extension CEOs like Eich). This was a perfect storm, not a pissy fit.

  6. simon says

    He is not explaining to us or people outside KCUPID. The management of KCUPID accepted his explanation while the board of Mozilla didn’t accept Eich’s non-explanation. His first duty as CEO is to protect the image of his own company. Eich failed the test and has to face the consequence.

  7. Randy says

    Great job.

    No politician is just one thing. Obama is fairly good for LGBT people (could be better, if we’re being honest) but he’s terrible for people interested in an open internet, or any kind of free speech or privacy.

    So I can’t complain about donations to politicians, provided there’s a good explanation like this one.

  8. AG says

    “Really, was that SO hard to say these few words, Mr. Eich?”

    Why should have Eich said that, if he doesn’t support gay marriage? You gay Nazis cannot tolerate people with different opinions, you really wanted a full submission, even a fake one.

    I don’t need people to keep their mouth shut on the question of gay marriage because they may lose their job. Because I’m not a fascist like you.

  9. simon says

    AG:
    You don’t get it. Do you? His company demanded his submission and do his job as a CEO i.e. to save the image of the company. He didn’t do it and was let go. It was more like corporate tyranny or corporate Nazi.

  10. simon says

    It is just funny that people dramatize it as some “failure in civil right movement” with all this “moral” outrage. The fact is corporation is a cold cold place. It doesn’t have moral.

  11. Epithalmium says

    Am I the only one that finds it kind of odd that he would be surprised that a Republican from the state of Utah would oppose gay rights? Seriously? He obviously didn’t know very much about politics at the time if that is the case.

  12. Jason says

    “Representative Chris Cannon because he was the ranking Republican on the House subcommittee that oversaw the Internet and Intellectual Property, matters important to my business and our industry.”

    DONE….end of story. get over it.

  13. sidspencer says

    sam yagan is a total lame liar and creep. chris cannon is very open about how much he hates homosexuals, and i doubt sam was that naive to give money to that big of a homophobe unless he was one as well. i knew all about chris cannon, and i live in seattle! he cruficied poor brendan, a man who really doesn’t seem to hate lgbt folks at all, but merely someone who has some odd attachment to the idea of “1-man, 1-woman” marriage. it’s weird, but he’s a great guy! his technology runs the internet and makes us happy for free! sam yagan was responsible for edonkey, the virus and spyware-filled file sharer who caved to the mpaa and riaa, giving them millions which they used to continue their campaigns of terror. sam yagan is a super-jerk, and i’m not resting until everyone knows it. what he did to brendan was horrible and wrong, and it will not stand. i call “shenanigans” on sam yagan. right now. GO!

  14. simon says

    sidspencer:
    Eich is over-rated. He is not Einstein. If he were not there, of course Java won’t exist. But someone else would have done something similar. It may not be Java but it would have similar functions.
    His contribution to programming has nothing to do with his ability to run a company.

  15. simon says

    Of course, PR is all lies. If Eich is not comfortable with it, he probably is not suitable to be the CEO of a corporation in today’s environment.

  16. Joseph Blosch says

    The bigots in the gay community are hypocrites as well as ignorant. They target one man and extort the company while allowing a man that did the same thing to get away with it. Welcome to the new Klan in America – you are either with the bigots in the gay community or you get burned on a cross.

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