Brendan Eich's departure as CEO of Mozilla in the backlash over his 2008 donation of $1,000 to the campaign for Proposition 8, the California initiative that limited marriage to opposite-sex couples, has sparked a new backlash—over free speech. There has been some absurdly overheated rhetoric on the right, with mentions of the gulag, fascists, jihad, and Torquemada. But even gay authors who champion marriage equality, such as Andrew Sullivan, Frank Bruni, and Dale Carpenter, have assailed a new orthodoxy and intolerance in the liberal camp.
There is no question that Eich's resignation under pressure highlights a larger trend: the increasingly prevailing view that all opposition to same-sex marriage is bigotry akin to racism. In many ways, this attitudinal shift has helped same-sex marriage (for instance, by advancing the judicial opinion that discrimination against gay unions has no rational basis). But if it turns to persecution of dissent, warns Cathy Young, the consequences will be bad not only for intellectual freedom and the cultural climate but ultimately, perhaps, for gay equality as well.