Gay man fired by Bishop of Richmond Catholic Diocese files federal discrimination claim
John M. Murphy, age 63, a life-long Catholic and alumnus of the University of Notre Dame, has filed a lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Richmond claiming he was fired because of his same-sex marriage.
The former Executive Director of Saint Francis Home in Richmond, a nonprofit, assisted living facility for persons of limited financial means, was hired in March of this year and claims he had received praise for his handling of the job. But after filing his employee benefits paperwork, and marking the forms with his same-sex spouse, he found himself on the receiving end of a pink slip.
Murphy said he spoke with his employers before being hired, he mentioned his marriage and they told him it wouldn’t be a problem. But according to a press release by Equality Virginia, Virginia’s leading LGBTQ activist organization, when the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, Francis X. Di Lorenzo, noticed the same-sex relationship, he ordered the St. Francis Board to fire Murphy.
“I expect to be judged by my job performance, but I am appalled and deeply hurt that the Bishop of the church I grew up in would suddenly fire me solely because of the gender of the person I share my life with – a person to whom I am lawfully married according to the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Murphy in the EV statement. “It is shocking to me that this can happen in 2015 in America, and I fear for my financial survival if any employer can do this to me at any time.”
According to EV, the board unanimously refused, and some members resigned over the order. It took Bishop Di Lorenzo personally deputizing someone to go to Murphy’s house and fire him.
The state of Virginia lacks protections in employment based on sexual orientation, however a claim of sex discrimination can be filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC handles investigations into these claims, and can make decisions based on federal law.
The use of a sex discrimiantion claim is one used by a few LGBTQ Americans in recent years as it relates to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination by covered employers on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
In 2013, the case of Baldwin v. Dept. of Transportation was the first EEOC claim to protect LGBTQ employees from discrimination based on sex because of who they love.
According to HuntonLaborBlog, the EEOC’s Title VII “sex” claim “encompasses both the anatomical differences between men and women and gender, which refers to social roles based on sex” and “The EEOC determined that that reasoning “applies equally in claims brought by lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals under Title VII.”
For those concerned that the Catholic Church should be protected from such legal claims due to religious freedoms, James Parrish, Executive Director of Equality Virginia thinks otherwise.
“This country has a long and important history of upholding religious freedom,” said Parrish. “That right, which has preserved everyone’s ability to worship and believe as they choose, should not be repurposed to allow individuals or institutions to impose harm on others. Most Americans and Catholics will find it shocking that Mr. Murphy was fired by the Catholic Diocese of Richmond solely because he is gay.”
A press conference is scheduled tomorrow to provide more information on Murphy’s firing.
A petition has already started aiming to drum up support for Murphy
New Study: large majority of Americans support LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws, oppose ‘bathroom bills’
Support for LGBT rights and religious inclusion has expanded drastically over the past decadeAugust 26, 2016
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