Silicon Valley employees spent more money opposing same-sex marriage than you might think

More likely to be in this crowd.
More likely to be in this crowd.
Image: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
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Mozilla Corporation CEO Brandon Eich stepped down yesterday, a week after getting the job. Intense pressure over his 2008 donation supporting California’s Proposition 8, which sought to ban same-sex marriage, forced him to quit. Eich’s $1,000 donation first came to light in 2010, but the issue snowballed after he was named CEO, and didn’t explain or change his position on Proposition 8 in interviews.

Eich’s anti-gay marriage position looked like an anomaly—not just at Mozilla, a company owned by a nonprofit foundation and noted for its liberal ethos, but across the tech world in general. But the Los Angeles Times published a database today of individual donations to the campaign, and we looked at employee donations from some of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies.

Google and Apple both took official positions (Apple donated $100,000) against the law, i.e., in favor of same-sex marriage. Google’s Larry Page donated $40,000 to the campaign against the law before he became the company’s CEO, and his co-founder Sergey Brin donated $100,000. Even without their donations, Google employees predominantly opposed Prop 8. Other prominent executives and founders like Sheryl Sandberg, Jerry Yang, and Pierre Omidyar signed a public letter opposing the law.

However, Eich was far from being alone. Intel and HP employees donated more in support of the law than against it, in contrast with the general population of the San Francisco Bay Area. Nearly half of Intel’s total donations came from a single donor. At Mozilla, just three other employees donated a combined total of $1,350 opposing the law.

These are individual employee donations—not ones the companies themselves made. Most donations were from California residents, but some out-of-state employees donated as well:

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