A boycott and pressure campaign was launched against Brendan Eich, recently named CEO of Mozilla (which owns the Firefox browser), because in 2008 he contributed to a pro-Proposition 8 group. Eich resigned after a revolt against him at his own company due to his contribution.
Prop. 8 enshrined in the California constitution the definition of marriage as being one man, one woman, after the California Supreme Court held that limiting marriages to one man, one woman violated the California Constitution. The voters passed Prop. 8 to overrule the California Court’s interpretation.
We covered the legal and political issues extensively here. Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court never ruled on the substance of the issue, as the defenders of the Proposition were held not to have standing to protect the law after the California Attorney General (and now Governor) Jerry Brown refused to do so. That left standing a federal trial court ruling that Proposition 8 violated the U.S. Constitution.
Back in 2008, of course, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and a clear majority of the nation accepted one man, one woman as the definition of marriage. Prop. 8 passed in large part because of strong support from Black and Latino churches and voters.
The fury of those opposed to Prop. 8 was not directed at those Democratic politicians and Black and Latino groups, but at Mormons, who were influential in the proposition drive.
I wrote about it at the time at American Thinker on December 4, 2008, It’s Time to Speak Out Against The ‘Mormon Boycott’, in which I detailed the widespread campaign:
In the end, the supporters of gay marriage who engage in anti-Mormon hate speech will realize that they have damaged their own cause. Lashing out at others and engaging in religious bigotry does not constitute an argument in favor of gay marriage.
Regardless of one’s position on gay marriage, it is time to speak out against the “Mormon boycott.” There simply is no one else who will, if we don’t.
I also posted, in a separate post at Legal Insurrection, an image of a sign actually carried by one of the protesters:
Whether there is a constitutional right to change the traditional definition of marriage, or whether that issue is merely political subject to electoral vote, is something the courts and the major political parties themselves have not agreed on. To single out Mormons and subject Mormons to an economic boycott is unjustifiable.
— Legal Insurrection (@LegInsurrection) April 5, 2014
The Mormon boycott never went far, though not for lack of trying, because Democrats and gay rights activists had a political problem. So long as major Democratic candidates supported what Prop. 8 enshrined, there was only so far they could go in demonizing supporters of traditional marriage.
But the template was created that support for traditional marriage was a hate crime and pure bigotry, just waiting for the right political time to pounce.
In April 2011, the law firm of King & Spalding came under an boycott threat when it agreed to represent the U.S. House of Representatives in a lawsuit defending the Defense of Marriage Act (signed into law by Bill Clinton).
Not only was King & Spalding threatened with direct boycott and being kicked off law school recruiting calendars, its clients unrelated to the dispute were threatened with picketing and boycotts. Coca Cola, the largest client of King & Spalding, had nothing whatsoever to do with DOMA, yet it was threatened and reportedly pressured the law firm as a result. The specter of a law firm’s clients unrelated to a dispute being threatened with boycott for using the law firm on unrelated matters was unprecedented, as far as I know. King & Spalding dropped the representations, causing its attorney Paul Clement to leave and take the House as a client with him.
The watershed event, however, was Barack Obama’s mid-campaign evolution in support of gay marriage in May 2012. That evolution was not much of an evolution; it’s pretty clear that Obama always supported gay marriage but chose political expediency for the 2008 campaign.
Nonetheless, Obama’s evolution set free the demonization of anyone who supported traditional marriage as not merely incorrect, but beyond worthiness to participate even in private business activities.
Chick-fil-A was one of the first targets of the new era of intolerance, as I explained in my post, Most important legacy of Obama’s gay marriage switch was freeing Dems to play the “bigot card”:
I can’t say I’m surprised it came to threats from the Mayors of Boston and Chicago, and a Chicago Alderman, to deny Chick-fil-A a business permit because the owners support the traditional definition of marriage as one man – one woman. Or that two other Mayors, in San Francisco and D.C., have jumped on the bandwagon telling Chick-fil-A to stay out of town.
So long as Obama supported the traditional definition of marriage, Democratic politicians and support groups had to tread carefully in how far their rhetoric and actions went. Once Obama came out in support of gay marriage, Democrats were freed to accuse anyone and everyone who supports the traditional definition of marriage as bigoted and unworthy of a place in their jurisdictions.
Now the “bigot card” is on full display as a centerpiece of Democratic politics.
And make no mistake, effectively banning the support of traditional marriage as “hate speech” is where the movement is heading. It is impossible to have a discussion of the issue without supporters of traditional marriage being called bigoted. “Bigot” is the new “racist” and the “bigot card” is the new “race card.”
Such an argument, however, is tantamount to an admission that persuasion as a political tactic has failed.
There was a big pushback against the attack on Chick-fil-A.
And there is a big pushback against the ousting of Eich, and against Mozilla.
Among the most outspoken is Andrew Sullivan, who is gay, The Hounding Of A Heretic:
Will he now be forced to walk through the streets in shame? Why not the stocks? The whole episode disgusts me – as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society. If this is the gay rights movement today – hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else – then count me out. If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us.
Sullivan followed up:
He did not understand that in order to be a CEO of a company, you have to renounce your heresy! There is only one permissible opinion at Mozilla, and all dissidents must be purged! Yep, that’s left-liberal tolerance in a nut-shell. No, he wasn’t a victim of government censorship or intimidation. He was a victim of the free market in which people can choose to express their opinions by boycotts, free speech and the like. He still has his full First Amendment rights. But what we’re talking about is the obvious and ugly intolerance of parts of the gay movement, who have reacted to years of being subjected to social obloquy by returning the favor.
(added) And more, Sullivan notes the hypocrisy as to Hillary Clinton:
Hillary Clinton only declared her support for marriage equality in 2013. Before that, she opposed it. In 2000, she said that marriage “has a historic, religious and moral context that goes back to the beginning of time. And I think a marriage has always been between a man and a woman.” Was she then a bigot? On what conceivable grounds can the Democratic party support a candidate who until only a year ago was, according to the latest orthodoxy, the equivalent of a segregationist, and whose administration enacted more anti-gay laws and measures than any in American history?
William Saletan in Slate.com has a mocking call to purge tens of thousands of people, making the satirical point of the absurdity of the purge of Eich:
If we’re serious about taking down corporate officers who supported Proposition 8, and boycotting employers who promote them, we’d better get cracking on the rest of the list. Otherwise, perhaps we should put down the pitchforks.
While we’re talking about Brendan Eich now, remember, first they came for the Mormons. Few spoke out, although I’m proud that I did.
(Featured Image Source: Raphael Mazor Flickr)DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.