By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com April 08 2014 5:29 PM ET
The cofounder and CEO of online dating site OKCupid found himself in a bit of hot water Tuesday after Uncrunched revealed that he had donated to an antigay politician in Utah back in 2004.
But in a statement emailed to The Huffington Post, OKCupid's Sam Yagan apologized and said he would not donate to a candidate with such a record again if given the chance. He also distanced his donation from former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich's 2008 contribution to California's Proposition 8, which revoked marriage equality in the state.
"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," Yagan told The Huffington Post Tuesday.
Noting that OKCupid's popup warning to Mozilla Firefox users — encouraging users to access the site through another browser not produced by a company that just appointed a supporter of California's anti–marriage equality Proposition 8 as its CEO — was crucial to the mounting pressure that ultimately prompted Mozilla's CEO, Brendan Eich, to resign last week, Uncrunched slammed OKCupid's Yagan as hypocritical. Mother Jones published a report Monday striking a similar tone.
Uncrunched, a tech blog run by TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, reported that Yagan, who cofounded OKCupid and serves as CEO of that and its parent site, Match.com, donated $500 to Utah Republican congressman Chris Cannon in 2004. As the tech blog notes, Cannon "has a special kind of hate for gays" and opposed employment protections, adoptions by same-sex couples, abortion, and voting rights while backing the state's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The Human Rights Campaign gave Cannon a 0 rating for his lack of support regarding LGBT equality.
Since Yagan's company gained an immense amount of press attention for OKCupid's decision to block Firefox — although that block was removed days later — Uncrunched was unabashed in calling OKCupid's Firefox block blatant hypocrisy, when its own CEO made a similar sized donation to an antigay candidate.
"How can a man orchestrate and support a boycott of Mozilla over Eich and yet donate to a hateful politician like Chris Cannon?" asked Uncrunched. "How do you square that? You don’t. A man who feels strongly enough to boycott Mozilla over Eich’s actions is not a man who would donate to Chris Cannon."
"OkCupid received a clear benefit, media attention, for trashing Eich," continues the blog. "But their co-founder and ultimate CEO has shown strong anti-gay tendencies in the past. That’s hypocrisy, and worse."
But in a notable difference from the controversy over Eich's $1,000 donation to the Yes on 8 campaign in 2008, Yagan abruptly apologized for his support of Cannon and acknowledged it was misguided. Despite numerous requests — both online and in person — to rethink his position on marriage equality, Eich refused to discuss the subject, leading many to conclude that he still opposed the freedom to marry.
"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," Yagan told HuffPost. "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."