Fifty-eight mostly gay conservatives including Peter Thiel, Andrew Sullivan, and Ken Mehlman have signed a statement denouncing "some supporters of gay equality" for being intolerant of people who do not see gays as equal citizens.
They point by example to Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich, who took actions with his donation to Proposition 8 specifically intended to harm others, and then resigned when those actions were exposed and they did not fit the corporate culture of the company at which he was employed. The signatories seem to suggest that there was an organized campaign to get rid of Eich ("scalped by gay activists" as Sullivan put it) even though the mass disgruntlement seemed to come mostly from people on Twitter and social media reacting to the news, the two developers who brought up Eich's donation in the first place, and OkCupid, which took the boldest step of blocking Mozilla's browser Firefox.
Says the statement, in part:
The signatories of this statement are grateful to our friends and allies for their enthusiasm. But we are concerned that recent events, including the resignation of the CEO of Mozilla under pressure because of an anti-same-sex- marriage donation he made in 2008, signal an eagerness by some supporters of same-sex marriage to punish rather than to criticize or to persuade those who disagree. We reject that deeply illiberal impulse, which is both wrong in principle and poor as politics.
…There is no evidence that Brendan Eich, the Mozilla CEO who resigned over his $1,000 donation to California’s Proposition 8 campaign, believed in or practiced any form of discrimination against Mozilla’s LGBT employees. That would be a very different case. He was pressured to leave because of personal political action he took at a time when a majority of the American public shared his view. And while he acknowledged the pain his donation caused, he did not publicly “recant,” which some suggested he should have done as the price of keeping his job.
Much of the rhetoric that emerged in the wake of the Eich incident showed a worrisome turn toward intolerance and puritanism among some supporters of gay equality—not in terms of formal legal sanction, to be sure, but in terms of abandonment of the core liberal values of debate and diversity.
Sustaining a liberal society demands a culture that welcomes robust debate, vigorous political advocacy, and a decent respect for differing opinions. People must be allowed to be wrong in order to continually test what is right. We should criticize opposing views, not punish or suppress them.
We prefer debate that is respectful, but we cannot enforce good manners. We must have the strength to accept that some people think misguidedly and harmfully about us. But we must also acknowledge that disagreement is not, itself, harm or hate.
As a viewpoint, opposition to gay marriage is not a punishable offense. It can be expressed hatefully, but it can also be expressed respectfully. We strongly believe that opposition to same-sex marriage is wrong, but the consequence of holding a wrong opinion should not be the loss of a job. Inflicting such consequences on others is sadly ironic in light of our movement’s hard-won victory over a social order in which LGBT people were fired, harassed, and socially marginalized for holding unorthodox opinions.
It's unclear where the fingers are pointing here because gay activists did not get Eich fired. As our Ari Ezra Waldman explained in a piece earlier this month, gay groups were not in this fight – Eich was brought down simply because he took actions that made him unfit to lead a unique community like Mozilla.
Read the full statement HERE.
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