Trump administration supports firing gay Catholic school teacher

In July, Joshua Payne-Elliott filed a lawsuit against his former employer, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, claiming the Dioceses “illegally interfered with his contractual and employment relationship with Cathedral High School.” Mr. Payne-Elliot is gay and the Catholic Church does not want to employ gay teachers and believes the government should not force themto do so.

When Mr. Payne-Elliot filed his lawsuit, the Archdiocese issued the following statement:

“In the Archdiocese of Indianapolis’ Catholic schools, all teachers, school leaders and guidance counselors are ministers and witnesses of the faith, who are expected to uphold the teachings of the Church in their daily lives, both in and out of school. Religious liberty, which is a hallmark of the U.S. Constitution and has been tested in the U.S. Supreme Court, acknowledges that religious organizations may define what conduct is not acceptable and contrary to the teachings of its religion, for its school leaders, guidance counselors, teachers and other ministers of the faith.”

The Indy Channel:

After the Diocese terminated Mr. Payne-Elliot, Archbishop Charles Thompson said in a letter to parents and students that “continued employment of a teacher in a public, same-sex marriage would result in our forfeiting our Catholic identity.”

On Friday, We the People’s Trump’s Department of Justice filed a “Statement of Interest” supporting the Archdiocese. In its press release, the DoJ stated the following:

The government explains in the Statement of Interest that the First Amendment prevents courts from impairing the constitutional rights of religious institutions. The former teacher’s lawsuit attempts to penalize the Archdiocese for determining that schools within its diocese cannot employ teachers in public, same-sex marriages, and simultaneously identify as Catholic. Supreme Court precedent clearly holds that the First Amendment protects the Archdiocese’s right to this form of expressive association, and courts cannot interfere with that right.

The Statement of Interest also makes clear that courts cannot second-guess how religious institutions interpret and apply their own religious laws. Supreme Court precedent explains that the First Amendment forbids courts from engaging in “quintessentially religious controversies.” Instead, as the Statement of Interest explains, “the legitimacy of the Archdiocese’s decision as a matter of Catholic law” is committed exclusively “to the judgment of the Archdiocese.”   


In August, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court not to extend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual orientation/identification from discrimination in employment. The administration argued the legislative intent of the Act never included denying employment to a person based on his or her’s sexual orientation but only gender.

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