Tuesday, June 4, 2013

When a Catholic school teacher signs a contract ...

Ohio seems to have been at the center of many recent controversies related to same-sex activities. We have the Cub Scout leader in Ohio who was asked to step down from her role because of her same-sex relationship. We have the firing of a Catholic school assistant principal in Cincinnati who defended the redefinition of marriage via social media. Then there's the firing of a teacher in Columbus who was in a same-sex relationship. And the firing of another teacher in Cincinnati who used artificial insemination to become pregnant, also in a same-sex relationship.

The latter three stories are not simple cases of discrimination or not. Each involves an individual who signed a contract in order to work in a Catholic school, promising to live the Catholic faith, knowing that students would be looking to him or her as a role model.

The case of the Cincinnati teacher was decided in court yesterday, with a judge awarding her $171,000. What's really at stake here and why is this case such a big deal for the country? Gail Finke has a great piece on Catholic Exchange, exploring the answer.

It’s a story because it’s about sex and religion. A pretty young woman has a sweet little baby, how can that be wrong? So she’s a lesbian and she lied about that — who cares in this day and age, except the mean old Catholic Church that just wants to oppress women and stop them from having sex with whoever they want to, whenever they want to? So she violated her contract — who cares about that either, as long as the contract is with anyone connected with the Catholic Church and concerns sexual morality?

She has a case because the judge who okayed her suit in February ruled that she was not a ministerial employee. We’ll go into the implications of that ruling in a minute, but its immediate effect was that the case could proceed. Judge Arthur Spiegel found that it was not clear whether Dias was fired for being pregnant (which is illegal) or for sexual activity outside of marriage (which can be illegal, if it is not applied equally to men and women) or for artificial insemination (also illegal if it was not applied equally to men).

Judge Spiegel said it was a jury’s job to decide that, so all last week we were treated to reports ranging from the bemused to the hysterical — the latter being CNN personality Ashleigh Banfield equating the schools’ morality clause to sharia law. Even in more sober accounts, we’ve heard about Ms. Dias crying on the stand as she remembered being fired, and testifying that she thought fulfilling the contract that she signed every year for five years just meant she should “be a Christian woman and follow the Bible.”

Be sure to take the time to read it all here.

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