Last week, Soft-Core Sophistry implored the slacktivist community to not take any half measures in their quest to defeat intolerance toward the gay marriage issue.
In doing so, we suggested some of the obvious targets: anyone who donated money to California’s Proposition 8 (former Mozilla CEO and co-founder Brendan Eich’s sin), anyone who voted for Proposition 8, and anyone who voted for president before 2012, as every president in U.S. history was against gay marriage.
But now a juicier target has presented itself: OkCupid co-founder and current CEO Sam Yagan.
OkCupid led the charge against Eich for his 2008 donation. Members could not even log on to the OkCupid site using Mozilla’s Firefox browser.
The pro-gay-marriage internet crowd jumped up to support the free dating service, rallying to its cause, and, naturally, taking a close look at Yagan’s donation history.
As it turns out, Yagan had some history worth noting.
Back in 2004, Yagan donated money to a Republican congressman out of Utah named Chris Cannon. From the article linked above, Cannon was much more than a run-of-the-mill supporter of traditional marriage. He did more than talk.
During his time as congressman from 1997 to 2009, Cannon voted for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, against a ban on sexual-orientation based job discrimination, and for prohibition of gay adoptions.
That is an impressive list. He wanted the nation’s constitution amended to prohibit same-sex marriages (Prop 8 would have affected the state of California only). He wanted to continue allowing employers to be able to fire people just for being gay. And he wanted to stop homosexuals from adopting babies.
Now, there is a world of difference between donating to a single cause like Proposition 8 and donating to a candidate, who has influence over many different areas and can hold many views. It’s also easy to support a candidate with some views you agree with and some you find repugnant.
And Yagan has already come out with his excuses, of which that’s a part. Here’s his explanation:
“A decade ago, I made a contribution to Representative Chris Cannon because he was the ranking Republican on the House subcommittee that oversaw the Internet and Intellectual Property, matters important to my business and our industry. I accept responsibility for not knowing where he stood on gay rights in particular; I unequivocally support marriage equality and I would not make that contribution again today. However, a contribution made to a candidate with views on hundreds of issues has no equivalence to a contribution supporting Prop 8, a single issue that has no purpose other than to affirmatively prohibit gay marriage, which I believe is a basic civil right.”
See? Yagan just didn’t know where Cannon stood on gay rights. And how could he possibly suspect a Republican representative from Utah would be opposed to them? Just because he was consistently ranked as one of the most conservative members of the House and represented one of the most conservative districts in the country, in one of the most conservative states? That’s just stereotyping, which means it’s basically racist.
However, even if you want to say Yagan’s donation wasn’t as bad as Eich’s, that doesn’t mean it was good. We are judged by our actions, not our actions relative to someone else’s. So Yagan’s donation is still foul, even if Eich’s is fetid.
Yagan does say he wouldn’t make the same donation today. But Eich wasn’t rebelled against for his current views. He also wasn’t making donations to Proposition 8 anymore, but had in 2008. He also, by all accounts, fostered a welcome company for homosexual workers. His actions didn’t just define him, but haunted him, as they should haunt Yagan, simply for consistency’s sake.
Plus, let’s consider the reason Yagan gave for making the donation. He did it because Cannon would help his business. The rest of Cannon’s views didn’t matter, just his ability to help Yagan make a few more dollars. How many other awful causes has he (theoretically) unwittingly helped because he’s trying to line his wallet?
How about it, slacktivists? Do you attack a man who made a contribution in the past that helped fund anti-gay legislation? Do you ignore his present habit of defending homosexuals and fight against him regardless? That’s what happened before. Or is it different because you like Yagan more?
This is also a good opportunity to make a quick statement saying before you throw stones, you should check to make sure your hands are clean. (Unless you’re a slacktivist. Then go ahead and fire away.)
When the allegations against Eich surfaced, he did not fight them or backtrack or qualify his actions. He resigned, a mere two weeks after taking the position of CEO.
Your move, Yagan.
1. Even though throughout history, it’s been straight people who have had gay babies. ↩
2. If we were comparing Eich’s actions against others, then he comes out looking more popular. The measure passed. Eich was in the majority. ↩
3. Which is sensible, since Cannon hasn’t held office since 2009. ↩