Woman sues after she was fired for saying being 'gay' is not same as being black
A woman is suing the university where she worked for firing her over a privately written newspaper commentary expressing her Christian views on homosexuality.
Crystal Dixon, the former associate vice president of human resources at the University of Toledo, was fired in May after she objected to an opinion article in the Toledo Free Press that compared striving for "gay rights" with the civil rights struggles of black Americans.
Dixon responded with a Free Press editorial of her own, written not in her capacity as a university employee but as a private citizen.
"As a Black woman," Dixon wrote, "I take great I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are 'civil rights victims.' Here's why. I cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a black woman. I am genetically and biologically a black woman and very pleased to be so as my Creator intended."
University of Toledo President Lloyd Jacobs immediately suspended Dixon and condemned her statements. Within days, Dixon was fired.
Now, with the help of the Thomas More Law Center, a not-for-profit law firm dedicated to the defense and promotion of the religious freedom of Christians, Dixon has today filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court claiming violations of her constitutional rights of free speech.
"Crystal Dixon has a constitutional right to privately express her personal opinions," said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Law Center, in a statement.
"This particular opinion represents the view of a majority of Christian Americans," Thompson continued. "Essentially she was fired for being a Christian."
According to the Free Press, the University of Toledo's media relations policy does not specify whether faculty and staff may submit opinion pieces to the media.
"Supreme Court decisions remind us, that the fact you are a public employee doesn't mean you give up your First Amendment rights," Floyd Weatherspoon, a professor at Capital University Law School in Columbus, told the newspaper. "The majority of her column is about her personal views."
Weatherspoon said courts are usually supportive of employees in First Amendment cases, citing Pickering v. Board of Education, in which the Supreme Court ruled school officials had violated a teacher's free speech rights by censuring him after he criticized them in a newspaper editorial.
The chain of events in Dixon's case was launched by Toledo Free Press Editor in Chief Michael S. Miller's column boasting of his support for the "gay" community.
"I have been tangentially immersed in the gay culture for so long, it's a natural and common aspect of life. Three decades of loving these friends and family and sharing their successes in managing careers and raising families has jaded me to the hatred and prejudice many people had against the gay community. … As a middle-aged, overweight white guy with graying facial hair, I am America's ruling demographic, so the gay rights struggle is something I experience secondhand, like my black friends' struggles and my wheelchair-bound friends' struggles," he wrote.
He then wrote about moderating a town hall meeting sponsored by two homosexual activists groups.
It dealt "with issues of employment discrimination against gay people," he said. According to the panelists, he continued, "UT has offered domestic partner benefits since then-president Dan Johnson signed them into effect. The Medical University of Ohio did not offer those benefits. When the institutions merged, UT employees retained the domestic-partner benefits, but MUO employees were not offered them. So, people working for the same employer do not have access to the same benefits."
Dixon then responded.
"I respectfully submit a different perspective for Miller and Toledo Free Press readers to consider. … First, human beings, regardless of their choices in life, are of ultimate value to God and should be viewed the same by others. At the same time, one's personal choices lead to outcomes either positive or negative," she said.
"As a black woman who happens to be an alumnus of the University of Toledo's Graduate School, an employee and business owner, I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are 'civil rights victims.' Here's why. I cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a black woman. I am genetically and biologically a black woman and very pleased to be so as my Creator intended. Daily, thousands of homosexuals make a life decision to leave the gay lifestyle evidenced by the growing population of PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex Gays) and Exodus International just to name a few."
WND also reported an author who wrote two books about homosexuality told managers at Toledo in an open letter they should praise an administrator who said being "gay" is not the same as black, not punish her.
Robert A.J. Gagnon, the author of "The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics" and "Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views," said, "Ms. Dixon is absolutely right that sexual orientation is not akin to race or sex. Unlike a homosexual orientation, race and sex are 100 percent congenitally predetermined, cannot be fundamentally changed in their essence by cultural influences, and are not a primary or direct desire for behavior that is incompatible with embodied structures."
"Your suspension of Ms. Crystal Dixon, associate vice president of human resources at the University of Toledo, for rejecting a comparison between homosexuality on the one hand and being black or handicapped on the other hand constitutes, in my view, a gross injustice and an expression of the very intolerance that you claim to abhor," he wrote.
Gagnon said the closer parallels to adult-committed homosexual relations are not ethnicity or gender but, rather, adult-committed incestuous unions and adult-committed polysexual unions.
"Give America more exposure to upscale, adult-committed polygamous bonds (and adult-committed incestuous bonds) and American will learn to be more tolerant of such bonds…," he wrote. "Those who dismiss a polygamy analogy and an incest analogy on the grounds that polygamy and incest always produce 'demonstrable harm' are simply responding out of their 'polyphobia' and 'incest-phobia.' And then you can suspend people who say critical things about such relationships, once you overcome your own prejudices."
Gagnon, who holds degrees from Princeton, Harvard and Dartmouth, wrote the "Sexuality" entry for the "New Dictionary of Christian Apologetics," the same entry for the "Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of Scripture," and dozens of other such articles. He's written for "Theology Matters," "Catholic Biblical Quarterly" and "Journal of Biblical Literature."
He says the most "shameful" part of the University of Toledo's actions is that managers are shutting off any dissent.
Such actions "come out of the Stalinistic, Soviet state. This is the kind of elimination of any expression of differences of opinion [found there]," he said.
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