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Popular Web Browser CEO Resigns Amid Gay Marriage Controversy


"Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech."

A desktop screen at an office in Bangkok on June 25, 2013 displays the homepage for the Mozilla Firefox browser with a message for its users that says: 'Security and privacy are not optional. Stand with a broad coalition to demand that the NSA stop watching us: stopwatching.us', which links to a petition to the US Congress to end NSA monitoring. The White House pressured Russia on June 24 to expel fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden and warned China it had harmed efforts to rebuild trust by allowing him to leave Hong Kong. AFP PHOTO/ Nicolas ASFOURI NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images

After weeks of public outcry over his support for traditional marriage, Brendan Eich is resigning from his position as CEO of the Mozilla Corporation.

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Eich, who became CEO just last month, will also step down from his spot on the board of the nonprofit foundation that wholly owns the popular web browser.

The outgoing CEO's resignation was announced Thursday in a blog post.

“Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO. He’s made this decision for Mozilla and our community,” the announcement said. “Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.”

“Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness. We welcome contributions from everyone regardless of age, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, language, race, sexual orientation, geographical location and religious views. Mozilla supports equality for all,” it said.

The resignation comes shortly after Eich insisted that he would not exit the company after gay rights activists loudly protested the fact that he donated $1,000 in 2008 in support of California’s Proposition 8, a ballot measure to define marriage as being between a man and a woman.

“So I don’t want to talk about my personal beliefs because I kept them out of Mozilla all these 15 years we’ve been going,” he told the Guardian. “I don’t believe they’re relevant.”

He later issued a more in-depth statement on the issue.

“I am deeply honored and humbled by the CEO role. I’m also grateful for the messages of support. At the same time, I know there are concerns about my commitment to fostering equality and welcome for LGBT individuals at Mozilla,” he wrote. “I hope to lay those concerns to rest, first by making a set of commitments to you. More important, I want to lay them to rest by actions and results.”

But furor over his beliefs on marriage didn’t subside, resulting in his eventual resignation.

“It’s clear that Brendan cannot lead Mozilla in this setting,” said Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker. “The ability to lead — particularly for the CEO — is fundamental to the role and that is not possible here.”

She said Eich was not forced to resign.

“I think there has been pressure from all sides, of course, but this is Brendan’s decision,” Baker said. “Given the circumstances, this is not surprising.”

Eich headed the company for only a short while. His resignation was effective immediately.

"While painful, the events of the last week show exactly why we need the web. So all of us can engage freely in the tough conversations we need to make the world better," the company said in its blog post. "We need to put our focus back on protecting that Web. And doing so in a way that will make you proud to support Mozilla."

Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

This post has been updated.

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