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Virginia Man Files Federal Discrimination Claim Against Catholic-Run Non Profit



Richmond, Virginia man’s firing from non-profit connected to the Catholic church could lead to protections for LGBTQ folks nationwide.

John Murphy, 63, entered the complex legal world of discrimination cases after being fired from a Catholic-run elderly care facility just eight days after he started working there in the Spring of 2015.

Murphy responded to a blind job application for an executive director position and was offered the job. Before long he was working through the hiring process for the The St. Francis Home which is Catholic Diocese of Richmond.

Murphy (top image right) was raised Catholic, graduated from Notre Dame, and still attended church semi-regularly, but he was an openly gay man who’d been legally married to his partner, Jerry Carter (top image left), of 30 years since 2008.

“I had a little bit of misgiving,” Murphy said about taking the job when he announced his Equal Opportunity Employment Commission complaint in October of last year.

“When I got to the next interviews, they said they really wanted me to focus… less on the religious aspect of it,” he said.

Murphy started the job in late March. He worked there for eight business days until April 1 when he received a message from two representatives from the Richmond Catholic Dioceses saying they wanted to meet with him.

He’d hadn’t met anyone from the diocese yet, so he figured it was a welcoming committee.

“It was not,” he said. “The CFO, and the human resources rep from the diocese came to my office and stated to me… ‘same-sex marriage is antithetical to Roman Catholic Church doctrine. This makes you unfit and ineligible to be the executive director of St. Francis home.’”

He was given a pink slip and has been fighting it ever since.

This lawsuit is the second step in a discrimination complaint. Murphy and his lawyer, Aubry Ford, filed an Equal Opportunity Employment Commission complaint back in October, the first step in claiming unjust treatment at work. Now, 180 days later, Murphy has the right to move that complaint into federal court if the EEOC hasn’t ruled on the issue.

While the EEOC has staid mum on Murphy’s case, they have shown support for LGBTQ folks in the past.

In July, 2015, the federal body ruled in favor of David Baldwin who claimed he was unjustly denied a job as a Supervisory Air Traffic Control Specialist after a superior had made negative comments about his sexual orientation. In that case, the EEOC ruled LGBTQ people were protected under the Title VII:

First, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation necessarily involves treating an employee differently because of his or her sex.  For example, a lesbian employee disciplined for displaying a picture of her female spouse can allege that an employer took a different action against her based on her sex where the employer did not discipline a male employee for displaying a picture of his female spouse.  Sexual orientation discrimination is also sex discrimination because it is associational discrimination on the basis of sex.  That is, an employee alleging discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is alleging that the employer took the employee’s sex into account by treating him or her differently for associating with a person of the same sex.  Finally, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is sex discrimination because it necessarily involves discrimination based on gender stereotypes, including employer beliefs about the person to whom the employee should be attracted. 

The EEOC, however, is not a legal body, and their stance on issues like Title VII can be used to advise judges in courtrooms, but are not taken as precedent.

Murphy and Ford both declined to comment as the case was still in development. And according to the Times-Dispatch, the Richmond Catholic Dioceses is aware of the lawsuit and sent a statement acknowledging the case saying the non-profit “declines any other comment about the matter at this time.”

Something to keep in mind as this case continues: St. Francis House might be owned by the local Catholic Diocese but it is not considered part of the church’s spiritual work. And according to Murphy, the job he was hired to do had nothing to do with spiritual work.

One only has to look at the TD’s comments section to find those who oppose Murphy’s fight, but support exists as well. James Parrish, Executive Director of Equality Virginia, said there’s a difference between religious freedom and discrimination and this case could help prove that.

“Last year, most Americans, and most Catholics, were shocked to learn that Mr. Murphy was fired by the Catholic Diocese of Richmond solely because he is gay, so that he is now seeking compensation should come as no surprise,” said Parrish in a statement.  ”Equality Virginia supports John in his pursuit for justice after his unlawful termination and hope that this will dissuade other institutions from similar acts of discrimination in the future.”


This article was originally published at GayRVA and is re-published with permission

Image by Brad Kutner

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‘Our Children Deserve Better’: First Lady Jill Biden Speaks Out After Six Die in Nashville School Mass Shooting



First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, speaking Monday afternoon at a National League of Cities conference, told attendees, “Our children deserve better,” as she broke the news of the Nashville school mass shooting at Covenant Presbyterian School where three children and three adults were shot dead.

“You know,” Dr. Biden, herself an educator and clearly pained by the news, began her remarks by saying, “I hate to say what I’m gonna say next because you know you’re so enthusiastic and with so much energy and hope and I feel it.”

“But while you’ve been in this room, I don’t know whether you’ve been on your phones but we just learned about another shooting in Tennessee, a school shooting and I am truly without words and our children deserve better, and we stand – all of us – we stand with Nashville in prayer.”

READ MORE: New WSJ Poll Is Devastating for DeSantis and His ‘Anti-Woke’ Policies

The First Lady, a former public high school English teacher and currently a professor of English at a community college, was speaking at the organization’s Congressional City Conference.

Watch Dr. Biden below or at this link.

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Death Toll Rises to Six as Three Children and Three Adults Declared Dead In Covenant School Mass Shooting (Streaming Video)



Six people have now died after a shooter shot and killed three young children and three adults at The Covenant Presbyterian School, a private Christian elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee. Police say the shooter was a 28-year old woman who had two assault rifles and a handgun.

WSMV announced the rise in deaths on-air, noting that the shooter is also dead. A police spokesperson later increased the announced death toll from five to six. Including the shooter the death toll is seven.

Live streaming video via CBS News below.

This article has been updated with additional video.

1:56 PM ET: Updated to change age of shooter based on new reporting from WSMV.

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New WSJ Poll Is Devastating for DeSantis and His ‘Anti-Woke’ Policies



“Florida is where woke goes to die,” according to the Sunshine State’s governor, Republican Ron DeSantis, who has based much of his expected 2024 presidential campaign on being “anti-woke.”

But a new poll from Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal is devastating to many of the policies being promoted and enacted by Governor DeSantis in his “free state of Florida,” calling into question how he and other Republicans who embrace his ideas will fare on the national stage.

“Patriotism, religious faith, having children and other priorities that helped define the national character for generations are receding in importance to Americans,” warns the WSJ, with some on social media pointing to a graphic that purports to capture how much America has changed in the past 25 years.

READ MORE: Trump Team’s Efforts to Rein Him ‘Wilted’ in Waco as He Invoked ‘Retribution and Violence’: Report

The importance of issues of patriotism, religion, having children, and community involvement have dropped dramatically across America. The one that has increased? Money.

One Democratic strategist calls it “eye-popping.”

Money is also the only issue on which Democrats and Republicans both agree.

But the real siren for Republicans comes in answers to so-called “culture war” questions.

The gap between Democrats and Republicans, expectedly, is huge, but DeSantis – should he launch a presidential run – will confront conservative and independent voters (not to mention, of course, Democrats) who aren’t as keen on, say, banning books, as he might like.

Asked, “Which of these concerns you more about schools today?,” a whopping 61% chose “some schools may ban books and censor topics that are educationally important.” Just 36% opted for “some schools may teach books and topics that some students or their parents feel are inappropriate or offensive.”

And more than half the country (56%) say they have some or a great deal of confidence in public schools. Just one-third (33%) said very little or none.

READ MORE: ‘Pits Parents Against Parents’: House Republicans Pass Anti-LGBTQ Florida-Style K-12 ‘Parents’ Bill of Rights’

DeSantis’ attempts to radically reshape the concept of public education in Florida made another dramatic move last week, when the Republican-majority legislature passed a bill the expands the school voucher program to every student. It could decimate enrollment in public schools, which would also reduce the amount of federal funding public schools in the Sunshine State get. Expected to cost billions, it could also lead to expansions of private and faith-based schools.

Monday morning, surrounded by school children, DeSantis signed it into law.

And yet nationally, according to the WSJ poll, a plurality of Americans oppose school vouchers.

“Do you favor, oppose, or neither favor nor oppose states giving parents tax-funded vouchers they can use to help pay for tuition for their children to attend private or religious schools of their choice instead of public schools?”

37% oppose the vouchers.
34% support them.

Democratic strategist and former Hillary Clinton campaign national spokesperson Josh Schwerin lists a “few findings from the new WSJ poll that should scare Republicans relying on ‘woke’ attacks”: “1) Tolerance is as important as money 2) Book banning is far worse than offensive content 3) Majorities think society has been about right or not gone far enough on range of DEI issues.”

For those who look at Trump rallies, watch right-wing news, or listen to GOP politicians or influencers, the idea that another “red wave” is coming next year may seem real, but even the right-wing Wall Street Journal found that a plurality of voters (44%) identify as Democrats – and just 38% identify as Republicans. 18% call themselves independents without leaning one way or another.

Nearly half the country (47%) identifies as moderate.

One issue from the poll DeSantis and the GOP do seem to have support on is diminishing the rights of transgender Americans, who are under attack every day.

Despite increased anti-trans hate crimes, despite the 430 anti-LGBTQ bills filed this year alone (according to the ACLU,) a plurality of Americans (43%) say society has “gone too far” in accepting transgender people. Just one-third say society hasn’t gone far enough.

But on other issues of equality, as Schwerin mentioned, nearly half the country (48%) say society has not gone far enough in promoting equality between men and women. And pluralities also say society has not gone far enough in accepting people who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual (37%), and businesses taking steps to promote racial and ethnic diversity (39%).

There’s another statistic that also flies directly in the face of DeSantis and his “where woke goes to die” motto.

Two-thirds of the country say society has either not gone far enough has been “about right” on “Schools and universities taking steps to promote racial and ethnic diversity.”

Just three in ten Americans (30%) say society has gone too far.

See the video and graphics above or at this link.

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