And not just gay marriage. The congressman, Chris Cannon, also opposed adoptions by gay couples and laws prohibiting discrimination in hiring gays. Sam Yagan’s donation, in other words, was more of a multi-spectrum anti-gay contribution than Brendan Eich’s $1,000 gift to support Prop 8 and yet he took it upon himself to be the tip of the spear in the “Eich must go” movement. Says Rick Moran of Yagan’s past, “The gay mafia is never around when you need them.”
OkCupid’s co-founder and CEO Sam Yagan once donated to an anti-gay candidate. (Yagan is also CEO of Match.com.) Specifically, Yagan donated $500 to Rep. Chris Cannon (R-Utah) in 2004, reports Uncrunched. 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.
He’s also voted for numerous anti-choice measures, earning a 0 percent rating from NARAL Pro Choice America. Among other measures, Cannon voted for laws prohibiting government from denying funds to medical facilities that withhold abortion information, stopping minors from crossing state lines to obtain an abortion, and banning family planning funding in US aid abroad. Cannon also earned a 7 percent rating from the ACLU for his poor civil rights voting record: He voted to amend FISA to allow warrant-less electronic surveillance, to allow NSA intelligence gathering without civil oversight, and to reauthorize the PATRIOT act.
I thought the OkCupid stunt over Eich was just a publicity scam but maybe there was more to it. Maybe Yagan fretted that he was compromised because of his Cannon donation and decided to inoculate himself by sacrificing Eich, to prove his (belated) commitment to The Cause. Maybe it wasn’t even the anti-gay component of Cannon’s record that worried him. The reason there’s an uproar over Eich in the first place is because it proves that the line of impermissible private activity by employees has shifted (in Silicon Valley, at least) in a way that most of the public hadn’t realized. If it can shift once unexpectedly, it can shift unexpectedly on other issues too. When does Yagan get fired for backing a candidate who voted against abortion?
He’s going to say one of two things in his defense (or both) once OkCupid comments on this. One: His donation to Cannon wasn’t about gay issues, it was about something unrelated — tech policy or whatever. You can contribute to a candidate without endorsing every position he holds; you can’t say the same of Eich’s contribution, which was aimed specifically at gay marriage. Okay, but in that case, what issue was so important to Yagan that it justified handing over money to a candidate who voted against gay rights at every turn? Let’s hear how he prioritizes and see if his friends on the left agree.
Two: He’ll claim that he’s changed his mind on gay rights, just like Obama but (apparently) unlike Brendan Eich. (Yagan also donated to Obama in 2008, back when O was dutifully posing as a traditional-marriage supporter.) Eich never renounced his donation to Prop 8; Yagan will, presumably, happily renounce his Cannon donation now to avoid the dreaded charge of hypocrisy. I’ve never understood, though, why any former opponent of gay marriage would, after changing his mind, bring down the hammer on someone who hasn’t changed his mind yet. I used to oppose gay marriage too; practically all straights (and some gays) have at some point. And yet lots of converts on this issue seem able to transition awfully quickly from opposition to ambivalence to burning other holdouts at the stake. If Yagan’s going to distinguish himself from Eich, let’s at least have a timeline from him of how long he thinks an SSM opponent should have to “evolve” in order to spare himself from a witch hunt.
Update: The heretic recants and returns to a state of grace:
“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.”
So gay rights were less important to him than profit? That’s a one-percenter for you.