Firms Offer Free Legal Aid to Anyone Threatened With Losing Job Over Prop 8 Support

Two law firms have recently announced that they will offer free legal aid to anyone who is being threatened with the loss of their job for supporting California's 2008 referendum defining marriage as being between only one man and one woman.

The Alliance Defending Freedom and the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund have come together to offer legal support for those whose livelihood may be threatened for supporting Proposition 8.

ADF and FCDF opted to provide such legal aid in response to the recent resignation of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich, which came from pressure due to his donation to the Prop 8 campaign.

"People who exercise their First Amendment freedoms should not be bullied into silence and forced out of their livelihood," said ADF Senior Counsel Joseph Infranco in a statement released Thursday.

"We will consider representing Californians or citizens in other states who have suffered job consequences for their support of marriage through the most American of activities: participating in the political process--a legal activity that is not disruptive to the mission of the employer."

Last month, Eich resigned from his position as CEO of Mozilla, a company that he co-founded, after it was revealed that he donated $1,000 to the campaign for Proposition 8.

Mozilla's executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker apologized in a statement to members of the Firefox community who were outraged by the company's decision to hire Eich as CEO.

"Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn't live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right," stated Baker.

"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."

The news generated a firestorm of criticism for Mozilla, with many arguing that it was hypocritical to claim diversity while excluding someone for acting upon their beliefs six years ago.

Later in April a group of 58 same-sex marriage supporters signed a public statement condemning the decision of Mozilla to pressure Eich to resign.

"We cannot wish away the objections of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith traditions, or browbeat them into submission," read the statement in part.

"We strongly believe that opposition to same-sex marriage is wrong, but the consequence of holding a wrong opinion should not be the loss of a job."

Charles LiMandri, president and chief counsel of the FCDF, echoed this concern for the First Amendment rights of opponents to same-sex marriage.

"California employers should not give in to a handful of intolerant activists who would seek to blacklist their fellow Americans for doing nothing more than exercise their constitutionally protected freedom to support various causes," said LiMandri.

"No employer should be allowed to ignore their employees' First Amendment freedoms or their employees' freedoms under state law."