The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that university diversity policies trump the First Amendment’s protections of religion and religious expression, but the dispute will continue, as a legal team representing former University of Toledo worker Crystal Dixon has requested a rehearing.
At issue are Dixon’s personal religious statements regarding homosexuality and the school’s affirmative action program for homosexuals.
Dixon was dismissed from her university post after she wrote a personal letter to the editor of a local newspaper objecting to the characterization of homosexuality as being the same as race.
“I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifesetyle are ‘civil rights victims.’ Here’s why. I cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a black woman,” she wrote. “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.”
The university fired her from her position in the University of Toledo’s human resources division for writing the letter, citing her religious beliefs. She sued, and a lower court concluded that the school’s diversity efforts trumped Dixon’s First Amendment rights.
The appeals court now has agreed, according to the American Freedom Law Center, or AFLC, which represents Dixon.
AFLC asked for a rehearing because the appeals court panel assumed that the university had editorial control over any of Dixon’s statements because of her position with the school.
“Dixson was fired from her employment as associate vice president for human resources with the University of Toledo because she expressed her personal, Christian views as a private citizen in an opinion piece published in the Toledo Free Press. Plaintiff did not occupy a political position nor did she publicly criticize any identified policy of her employer in her writing. Rather, plaintiff was fired for expressing her personal religious beliefs in a local newspaper on a very controversial issue: gay rights,” the legal team said in its rehearing request.
“As the U.S. Supreme Court has long stated, ‘If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.’”