Monday, January 4, 2016

Poor NOM comes to the defense of a poor discriminatory Catholic school

Brian S. Brown

Brian Brown is offended by an editorial in the Los Angeles Times. The piece is here and it is titled: “Discrimination ruling in same-sex-marriage case strikes right balance between freedoms. It's a good read and I encourage you to form your own opinion. Please bear with me as I flip back and forth between competing quotes and a complimentary quote from Rev. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame University. I want to be clear that Brown is not representative of most Catholics and even some Catholic clergy.

At issue is the 2013 hiring of Matthew Barrett as food services director at Fontbonne Academy. I wrote about this in February of 2014. Fontbonne is a Catholic girls' school located in Milton, Mass. The school withdrew the offer when they found out that Barrett was married to another man. Barrett filed a complaint under a Massachusetts law that prohibits job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Then, as the Times explains:
Judge Douglas H. Wilkins concluded that denying a job to someone because he is married to another man is discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The judge also rejected the school's argument that being forced to hire Barrett would violate its constitutional right to “expressive association” because the fact that he was in a same-sex marriage would undermine the school's message that such unions are wrong. Not only was there no evidence that he had engaged in “advocacy” of same-sex marriage, but his duties as food-service director, the judge noted, would not have involved “formally presenting … the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
They go on to explain why they believe that this is a balanced decision:
There are situations in which religious freedom can trump laws against discrimination. In 2012, the Supreme Court rightly held that the 1st Amendment required a “ministerial exception” from employment discrimination laws … Congress has allowed religious employers to favor workers of their own faith — even for nonministerial positions. But that is a far cry from allowing religious employers to ignore laws against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
This all makes perfect sense to most of us I think. But Brown is displeased:
How did the LA Times react to the ruling? They said it was "balanced" and a "model for the nation." In the Times' skewed vision of the new world order, church-run schools should be able to hire clergy and religion teachers that uphold their religious beliefs - but that's it. Other staff, presumably including administrators and teachers, should not be required to model the church's religious beliefs. They went on to call on Congress to enact employment protections for homosexuals that embodied this "balanced approach."
Well, yeah.

These schools are permitted to discriminate when doing so is necessary. It doesn't make a whit of difference whether or not a food service manager or a mathematics teacher happens to be gay. What they do in the privacy of their home is nobody else's business. Employers do have a right to regulate workplace speech. They have every right to preclude Mr. Barrett from discussing his marital status with students and other employees. They even have the right to preclude Barrett from displaying a desktop photo. I find it unfortunate that these schools would choose to exercise this right which amounts to pretending that gay people don't exist.

It's important to note that much of this depends upon who is managing the Catholic School. I would wager that many are run by people who make gay hires perfectly welcome. At the university level the president of Notre Dame, Father John Jenkins set the example in October of 2014 when the university extended benefits to all married staff. Beyond any possible legal obligations he stated:
We recognize an urgent call to welcome, support and cherish gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, who have been too often marginalized and even ostracized, and many of whom bear the scars of such treatment.
Indeed all 22 Jesuit universities provided benefits long before Obergefell. There is still something important about doing what is right and knowing what is wrong. Discrimination is wrong. It is also bad business since you are limiting the pool of talent.

Getting back to Brown gets us to a familiar place:
The extreme position taken by Judge Wilkins and praised by the LA Times is representative of the endemic efforts of the media and elite to force an embrace of same-sex 'marriage' on every individual and group in the nation regardless of their deeply-held, often religious, views. In this new orthodoxy, it's not enough that same-sex couples can get 'married.' Every single person and group is expected to salute and endorse the act. Every baker, florist, photographer and similar professional must participate if asked. And every religion must accept it except in very narrow circumstances.
Any decision that Brown does not like is called extreme. The rest is classic National Organization for Marriage “poor us.” Brown is wed to the idea that we seek his approval — or that we need it. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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