Massachusetts Catholic school harassed for denying job to man in same-sex marriage
February 4, 2014 (CardinalNewmanSociety.org) - A Massachusetts man is asking the Commonwealth to punish a Catholic school for preserving its Catholic mission, by allegedly rescinding a job offer because the applicant identified his same-sex husband as his emergency contact, according to the Boston Globe.
Matthew Barrett, who is being represented by the Boston offices of Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, filed his complaint with the Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination. The Globe reports that he was offered the job in July as food services director at Fontbonne Academy, a Catholic all-girls prep school, before it was rescinded two days later by the head of school.
“She said the Catholic religion doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, and that was her excuse,” Barrett reportedly said. “It just ate me up.”
“I had all the qualifications,” he reportedly said. “That was the job for me.”
But employees at Catholic schools are obligated to both teach and model Catholic values. Similar cases of Catholic schools being forced to defend their Catholic identity have become increasingly common, as many states have legalized same-sex marriage. The cases often involve employee contracts by which employees confirm that they will live according to Catholic beliefs.
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Barrett, who told the Globe that he was raised Catholic, said he never signed a contract with the school. He did say he was told by school officials that employees must recognize Church doctrine, but he said he thought that only meant participating in prayers.
“There is a balance between important values, which are religious liberties, and discriminatory practices,” said Bennett Klein, a senior GLAD attorney. “This is a job that has nothing to do with religion… and this weighs toward discrimination.”
In the 2012 Hosanna-Tabor case, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of a “ministerial exception” to federal, state and local laws against virtually all forms of discrimination for religious institutions.
But Klein told the Globe that the position of food services director should not be included under the exception.
Under Massachusetts law, the Commission against Discrimination could conduct an inquiry into the complaint, and if the Commission found probable cause that discrimination occurred, Barrett could file a complaint in state civil court.
Fontbonne is sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph.
Reprinted with permission from CardinalNewmanSociety.org.