OKCupid, the top online dating site and one of the most-visited sites in the world of any kind, today blocked users of the Firefox web browser from directly accessing the matchmaking service, because the new CEO of Firefox parent company Mozilla once donated $1,000 to a campaign to stop gay marriage.
In 2008, Brendan Eich — who has worked for Mozilla and its predecessor, Netscape Communications, since 1995 — made the donation to a campaign in support of Proposition 8, a ballot measure that passed in that year’s California election and outlawed gay marriage in the state.
Last week, Mozilla elevated the longtime employee and programmer to chief executive of the company.
The outcry was immediate, with Mozilla employees posting dozens of messages on Twitter calling for Eich to immediately resign the post. Three Mozilla board members also stepped down, though a statement by the company claimed they resigned for unrelated reasons.
On Monday, OKCupid joined the opposition to Eich. When Firefox users navigated to OKCupid looking for their next date, instead they found themselves faced with a message from the company telling them to use a different web browser, such as Google’s Chrome, Apple’s Safari or Microsoft’s Internet “Exploder” (sic).
OKCupid says that eight percent of the matches made on its site are for same sex couples.
“Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure,” read the OKCupid statement, in a tone unusually pointed for any sort of corporate message directed at another company’s CEO.
“We don’t think this was the right thing for people to donate money to, and this is someone we do business with so we decided to take action,” said OKCupid President Christian Rudder.
With an estimated 3 billion page views per month, OKCupid is currently ranked by the internet data-collection site Alexa as the 124th most visited site in the United States, and the 420th-most in the entire world.
While Eich has not responded to the OKCupid message personally, he sought to quell the controversy by posting a message on his personal blog. In the blog entry, the new Mozilla CEO stated, “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.”
He also expressed “my sorrow at having caused pain.”
What he did not do and has not done, however, is renounce his earlier anti-gay position, which meant that his apology came up short with his opponents. In a response to a Twitter post, Eich wrote, “Mozilla has no say in employees’ contributions. CA law requires donors to list employer,” an apparent attempt to distance the company from his personal viewpoints.
OKCupid still allows Firefox users to access its site after reading its statement, through a link on the bottom of the message page. Rudder said that 12 percent of OKCupid visits come through the Firefox browser.
Mozilla e-maled a statement to media outlets Monday, saying, “Mozilla supports equality for all, including marriage equality for LGBT couples. No matter who you are or who you love, everyone deserves the same rights and to be treated equally.”
The statement concluded with a direct shot back at OKCupid.
“OKCupid never reached out to us to let us know of their intentions, nor to confirm facts,” said the Mozilla statement.