Saturday, September 5, 2015

Catholic School Officially Changes Policy After Fired Lesbian Rejects Hush Money, Goes Public | ThinkProgress

The policy change is highly unusual for a Catholic institution, as instances of Catholic schools firing LGBT employees for being “public” about their sexuality are increasingly common. Several LGBT Catholic workers and teachers have lost their jobs over the past few years simply for being “out” about who they are, with administrators often justifying the terminations by citing the Catholic Church’s historic opposition to homosexual acts. Catholic officials also often claim protection under the “ministerial exception” — a legal concept expanded in 2012 that allows faith-based organizations to discriminate when hiring for jobs they classify as “ministerial.”

According to New Ways Ministry, a LGBT-affirming Catholic organization, the reversal marks the first instance of a school changing its hiring policy to be more inclusive in “more than 50 public incidents since 2008 where church workers have lost their job in LGBT-related employment disputes.” 

David Renshaw, communications director for the Archdiocese of Portland, spoke with ThinkProgress shortly before entering a meeting to discuss the school’s decision. He said Portland Archbishop Alexander Sample does not yet have a statement on the matter, but confirmed that “Canon law does say that the bishop does have oversight or jurisdiction” over St. Mary’s. Earlier this year, Sample published a statement saying that he was “saddened” by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.

“We don’t know what the thought process was during the reversal,” Renshaw said, adding that Church officials would like enter into talks with school administrators soon.

But while the new policy is out of step with the position of the Catholic hierarchy, it is far more in line with the deeply progressive bent of American Catholicism: Over 60 percent of U.S. Catholics support marriage equality.

It remains to be seen whether St. Mary’s officials will extend another offer to Brown, or whether she would accept such an invitation if they did.

Catholic School Officially Changes Policy After Fired Lesbian Rejects Hush Money, Goes Public | ThinkProgress

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