GOOD NEWS! Valleywag recently reported that Okcupid has been redirecting Mozilla Firefox users to other browsers in a show of support for LGBTQ folk! A while back, Mozilla’s CEO Brendan Eich financially supported Prop 8, a California proposition that banned gay marriage in the state. TechCrunch covered the controversy that ensued after his private donation was uncovered; many of the Mozilla employees spoke out about their disappointment and expressed their support for the queer community.
Check out the message that Okcupid displays when use Firefox to access their homepage:
They also include background information on Eich’s donation, and end with a powerful sentiment:
“We are sad to think that any OkCupid page loads would even indirectly contribute towards the success of an individual who supported Prop 8—and who for all we know would support it again. We wish Mozilla’s institutional commitment to freedom and openness were better reflected by their choice of leadership.”
Whenever issues like this arise, arguments about free speech and the First Amendment are cited, and honey, if that’s where you’re coming from, I have some bad news for you: You have a fundamental misunderstanding of “free speech” as a concept. Brendan Eich can believe whatever he wants, and he can donate his money where he pleases. He is welcome to shout his beliefs from the rooftops and write about it in the paper. He will face no governmental interference in his expression of his beliefs, because that is not allowed. While he is free to support vile political policies that further reinforce institutionalized bigotry, the rest of us with at least half a mind (and half a heart) are free to call him what he is: an asshole. Free speech does not mean being free of any reprisal; it means freedom from government reprisal. Sorry, but them's the breaks.
Although, of course, it’s economically wise of Okcupid to support the relationships of their users, it’s nevertheless encouraging to see a well-known company being vocal and proactive about their support for equality. If you’ve been paying attention at all, you’ll know that even large and well-loved companies, like Oreo for example, have faced major backlash when publicly supporting marriage equality. Any company that takes a seemingly controversial political opinion (although in particular, it seems like marriage equality has gained traction and at this point is arguably one of the less pressing issues for the LGBTQ community) is inevitably going to face blowback, and choosing to make a strong ethical statement in the face of that is…well. Rarer than it should be. And boy, it is refreshing to see.
Even when the ethical approach is congruent with the bottom line (or even perhaps motivated by it), I hope that highly visible support like this continues to eradicate shame, hatred, and make it clear that equality is not an option, but a necessity.
If you want to show your support too, you can do more than switching browsers! Donate to organizations like the ones on this list. LGBTQ youth suffer from an extremely high risk of homelessness, violence, and substance abuse; educate yourself on the facts about queer youth and reach out to your local shelters to see what kind of resources they need help with providing. Lastly, get out and vote against policies that diminish human rights, and use your dollar to support businesses that do the same.