“Prohibiting same-sex marriage — which is a constitutional right — as a condition of employment is legally prohibited sexual orientation discrimination.”

Lynn Starkey

Lynn Starkey, a guidance counselor, has worked for Roncalli High School in Indianapolis for 39 years. Her exemplary service with the Catholic high school included Teacher of the Year in 2009. Lynn Starkey has been told that her contract will not be renewed because she is in a same-sex marriage. The school claims that she is in breach of contract.

This is idiotic, vengeful, discriminatory and arrogant. It is also illegal according to federal and municipal law.

In April, 2017 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation amounts to sex discrimination which is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Thus, that is federal law in the circuit which includes Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. This was an en banc ruling affirming a three judge panel. Ivy Tech chose not to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.

Furthermore, employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is illegal in Indianapolis. There are no religious exemptions although a “ministerial” exemption would apply and Ms. Starkey is obviously not clergy. The school’s contract with Ms. Starkey is probably unenforceable with respect to her entering into a same-sex marriage.

Starkey had already filed a complaint in November against the school and the archdiocese alleging discrimination and a hostile work environment. It is also illegal in Indianapolis to refuse to extend employment opportunities because the employee filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She is amending her complaint to include the school’s refusal to renew her contract.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was heavily invested in thwarting marriage equality. One tactic was to withdraw services or terminate employees of Catholic schools to manufacture consequences of same-sex marriage where none existed. The bishops seem to have forgotten that this was a stratagem. They were unable to impose their religion on public policy. Now, perhaps, they want to get even. Petty pampered prelates.

There exists no logical reason to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. Prohibiting same-sex marriage — which is a constitutional right — as a condition of employment is legally prohibited sexual orientation discrimination. The archdiocese told IndyStar:

Ms. Starkey is currently in breach of her contract with Roncalli High School because she is in a civil union that is considered contrary to a valid marriage as seen through the eyes of the Catholic Church.

After 39 years of good service they are effectively terminating an employee for lawful conduct outside of the workplace. In addition to the complaint I hope she sues and cleans their clock.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.