Why AT&T has yet to make me CEO

April 9, 2004 | 24 comments

AT&T fired an employee who wouldn’t promise to ‘value homosexuality,’ though the employee, a benighted Christian, did promise to not discriminate. Luckily the employee was able to salve his distress with a lawsuit. (Hat tip: Clayton Cramer)


24 Responses to Why AT&T has yet to make me CEO

  1. Ivan Wolfe on April 9, 2004 at 3:47 pm

    Fairly typical. It’s only going to get worse.

    In my more cynical moments, I envision a future where believers (especiall Christians) are barred from holding public office and even certain private sector jobs. At least in this case, the courts acted responsibly.

    Often they don’t.

    Stephen Carter (Yale law professor and author of the brillant Murder mystery The Emperor of Ocean Park) wrote in his book
    The Culture of Disbelief
    From Kirkus Reviews:
    An important broadside attack on, as Carter (Law/Yale; Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby, 1991) puts it, the “effort to banish religion for politic’s sake.” In this passionately argued polemic–which Carter, a black Episcopalian, backs with personal anecdote, historical research, and legal brief–the case is made that something has gone awry in American politics since the heyday of the civil-rights struggle. To wit: In the 1960′s, Martin Luther King, Jr., was applauded for bringing religious convictions to the public arena and thus continuing an American tradition of Judeo-Christian moral activism. But today, Carter says, the media and the liberal establishment wish to tuck religious beliefs back in the closet (witness the dismay when Hillary Rodham Clinton wore a cross around her neck to some inaugural events). While Carter supports strict separation of church and state, he wonders at recent court decisions that seem to go for the religious jugular. Especially at risk, he believes, are minority religions, as evidenced by the recent judicial approval of logging on Native American sacred lands. This wide-ranging study offers discussions of creationism, classroom prayer, private funding for parochial schools, euthanasia, sex education, and the ultimate hot potato, abortion–all noteworthy for their patient analysis and moderate stance. While the law can never establish religion, concludes Carter, we would do well to reclaim the venerable idea that religious faith can be our best guide for political action. Sure to provoke much acclamation and dissent.

  2. Nate Oman on April 9, 2004 at 4:13 pm

    Ivan: The employee in this case won by bringing suit under the Civil Rights laws. I suspect that much of the hostility that you percieves comes in the form of aggressive anti-discrimination laws. It is worth remembers, however, that religious believers can also be the beneficiaries of such laws.

  3. Ivan Wolfe on April 9, 2004 at 4:34 pm

    Nate: they can be, but it’s like Hate crimes. Technically, assaulting/killing someone because they are white should be considered a hate crime. Is it ever reported or prosecuted that way? I haven’t noticed it (but I should add I’m hardly impartial on that issue, having been assaulted by someone I had never met merely because I was white).

    As for the anti-discrimination lawsuits – I was surpirsed when the Supreme Court ruled so narrowly (5-4) for the Boy Scouts. It seems that if that trend continues, we could have )in the future, with judges who are more “liberal”) the Supreme Court ruling that the LDS church has to solemize gay marriages in their temples.

    Of course, this is all me being very cynical today. Tomorrow I may be less cynical and have a more rosy view.

  4. Geoff Matthews on April 9, 2004 at 5:57 pm

    I’m going to have to disagree with Ivan on the gay marriages issue, at least in part. The Roman Catholic church refuses to solemnize marriages when one or both parties have been divorced (ie, John Kerry) or in instances of mixed marriages (one partner is not Catholic), there isn’t an agreement to raise the children as Catholics. No legal pressure has been made to change this, as is proper. A plain reading of the 1st Ammendmant makes this clear, but one would have thought this about polygamy as well.

    However, as I’m its been pointed out, the LDS stance on homosexuality could have effects on LDS quasi-religious institutions, such as BYU (ban on federal funds, etc.).

  5. Ivan Wolfe on April 9, 2004 at 7:24 pm

    Geoof – the polygamy thing is what is fueling my cynicism today. Since there already is a precedent of the courts telling a church that it cannot solemnize a certain type of marriage (thus putting the courts at a place where they can arbitrate what religous belief should be – see Stephen Carter’s book I mentioned above) it isn’t a huge leap for the courts to start telling churches what they must solemnize. (of course, even in my most cynical moments I see this trend as many, many decades off).

  6. Connie on April 12, 2004 at 4:22 pm

    As I have posted only one comment here before, let me preface my next comment with: I am non-mormon, and I am a lesbian.

    Honestly, I wouldn’t worry about it too much if I were you, Ivan. In my community (and I use that term as short for the gay and lesbian community), we aren’t interested in the slightest about forcing any faith to recognize any union they don’t feel comfortable with or where their doctrine prohibits this recognition.

    The recognition we seek is purely civil and legal, to protect what is ours when we commit to one another for life, or if we chose to have children or adopt children.

    I am not going to argue the points of gay unions here, as it is inappropriate. What I wanted to convey is the reassurance that this ‘movement’ is purely civil. I would be very vocal if anyone tried to file suit against a religious organization asking for them to recognize a gay union. It goes directly against our the purpose and I would be side by side with you denouncing such an action, as would many in my community.

    I think it is a common misconception that the “gays” are out for special rights where this is concerned. Honestly, my fellow Utahns, we aren’t. I would simply urge you to talk to a few in our community and see that we don’t want to change your religion or your marriages. We simply need some legal protection because of how our families have been torn apart. Any family unit torn apart is not good for children, regardless of sexual orientation.

    God bless.

  7. Thom on April 12, 2004 at 4:29 pm

    Watch out Connie, while I’m sure you won’t get any flack around here because of your political views or your sexual orientation, you are likely to be jumped on for assuming we’re all Utahns here. Not that there is anything wrong with that, of course. I just get the impression that many posters here are very hung up about the fact theat they do not come from Utah and choose not to live in Utah. Again, not that there is anything wrong with that. Some of us actually miss Utah and are scheming to find a reason to move back.

  8. Kaimi on April 12, 2004 at 4:34 pm

    I understand there is a lively debate over whether non-Utahns should be allowed to marry or adopt children. People gasp and say, “What if our children begin associating with non-Utahns? What if they begin to think it’s _okay_ to be a non-Utahn?”

    As for me, I think that non-Utahns are born that way. I believe most studies show this. Sure, some Utahns suggest that they change this aspect of their personality, by moving to Utah. But to me, that “cure” has always seemed worse than the disease.


  9. Connie on April 12, 2004 at 4:41 pm

    You guys are funny!

    I am sorry if I assumed all were from Utah. I thought the blog owners were from Utah, and I recognize not all visitors are…

    You crack me up.

  10. Thom on April 12, 2004 at 4:42 pm

    Kaimi – Yes, its true. I was born a non-Utahn. And what’s worse, I was born a California Mormon. What real choices do I have? I want to avoid the crazy liberals of my homeland, yet I still crave access to the beach. Can we somehow legislate an answer to my dilemma?

  11. Thom on April 12, 2004 at 4:46 pm

    Kaimi – One question. What is it supposed to mean when people put _underscore marks_ like that around words? Why not “quotation marks” like the rest of the written universe? What am I missing?

  12. Kaimi on April 12, 2004 at 4:50 pm

    That’s a convention that I picked up somewhere (I don’t recall where) to indicate underlining where you can’t underline something.

    I prefer it as a form of emphasis to capitalizing, which many people use, but which i find obnoxious-looking.

    In other words:

    I don’t think that it’s WRONG to capitalize for emphasis, but I think it’s _better_ to indicate underscoring. :)

  13. Jim F. on April 12, 2004 at 4:53 pm

    Thom, underlining and italics are, conventionally, the same typographically, but they aren’t the same as quotation marks. I don’t know where the underscore marks around words to indicate underlining came from, but I’ve seen it a lot.

  14. Grasshopper on April 12, 2004 at 4:55 pm

    Or you can use the also-common *asterisks* to indicate emphasis.

  15. Jim F. on April 12, 2004 at 4:55 pm

    Connie, I think I’m the only Utah Mormon among the permanent bloggers, and from what I’ve seen of the statistics on visitors, most are from outside of Utah.

  16. Connie on April 12, 2004 at 4:59 pm

    Wow… quite the crowd here.

    You know, Thom, there are support groups all around to help you with this dillemma. They can usually be found at Republican conventions, there is quite a network. I can only imagine your pain… a California Mormon… *shudder*.

    I wish you luck, my friend.

  17. Thom on April 12, 2004 at 5:30 pm

    Thanks Connie. . .I really appreciate it. Ain’t tolerance grand? The vast right-wing conspiracy can truly serve as a home away from home, but it doesn’t fill the aching need I feel for good Mexican food on the beach. Somehow, instead I find myself outside DC with alot of the other Mormon lawyers. What to do? Here I have neither the beach, nor much access to good Mexican, nor affordable housing, but I do live in an orderly, right-leaning suburb with tot-lots and plenty of good Vietnamese food which is much harder to come by in Utah. Alas, we must live with the choices we make, at least until we can find another good job out west.

  18. Ivan Wolfe on April 12, 2004 at 11:08 pm

    here’s an article by John Leo that argues, in effect, my cynicism isn’t unfounded (at least in Canada):


  19. Robert on April 13, 2004 at 2:43 pm

    Canada is different. It has, in the past, banned religious literature from its borders (e.g. the Jack Chick tracts that fundamentalists leave near pay telephones). I believe — and I may be wrong on this point — that it also subsidizes churches with tax dollars in the same way that tax dollars in European nations subsidize churches. The obvious problems in such countries is that once government money is used to fund religion is that the government frequently wants to exert some control over religious practice.

  20. Kaimi on April 13, 2004 at 2:54 pm

    Canada doesn’t have the first amendment, which is what would protect religious organizations. So the comparison seems totally inapt — John Leo is just blowing smoke.

  21. Connie on April 13, 2004 at 3:47 pm

    Canada doesn’t value the separation of Church and State like we do – in fact, I am not sure if it does at all. I think we are looking at apples and oranges when we look at USA and Canada in that respect.

    It could ban publicly expressed opposition to gay marriage or any other political goal of gay groups. The bill has a loophole for religious opposition to homosexuality, but few scholars think it will offer protection, given the strength of the gay lobby and the trend toward censorship in Canada.

    Since Canada has been at the forefront of Gay and Lesbian acceptance, this bill doens’t surprise me. However, it is not law – yet – and does have provisions for religious objection to the practice, which confirms what I had said earlier.

    Besides, when was the last time the US did anything because our neighbors to the north did? If that were the case, we would have legalized gay unions a long time ago. And we would have Mounties.

    Oooh, that might be fun. Let’s have Mounties! C’mon, who’s with me!?

    I do not believe that the US will mandate that religious institutions must recognize legal gay unions. It doesn’t make sense. That is the same as mandating that all women wear burka or all men wear yamulka on the Sabbat. It’s not going to happen.

    If people in my community want to be recognized by a church, we will need to find an open and affirming one, which is what my partner and I have done. There are many Christian churches who were willing to welcome us into their congregation, and a wonderful Pastor who perfomed our Union Ceremony. Now, I am not asking any church but mine to recognize our Union. In my heart, I know God witnessed our committment to one another, and that’s good enough for me.

    I honestly think I speak for most of my community in saying that what we are seeking is legal, not religious, recognition. Don’t be fooled by some arch-conservatives who say that this will lead to a kind of “gay affirmative action”. I don’t want to be treated any differently because I am a lesbian. I can make it fine on my own. But I would like to have my home, investments and my daughter’s future protected in the same way with my partner as it would be if she where male and I were allowed to marry her.

    **Just a little rant below, please forgive me. You can stop reading now, if you want to…**

    My partner and I have had to procure many legal documents in order to protect our home. These include wills, powers of attorney, name changes, etc. We estimate that we will have spent, once the entire procedure is complete, about $1,500 to receive the same legal rights as a heterosexual couple who spent $75 at the local court house to be married by a justice of the peace – both of which are civil proceedings. And it’s still not complete. She can still be called to testify against me in court, because we cannot evoke spousal priviledge. If I die, my step-daughter cannot collect my social security benefits because I cannot adopt her. Does she feel the death of me less because I am female? My partner could not even claim my body for burial until I secured the proper documents, regardless of the years of dedication to one another.

    That is what we are asking for. Legal protection of our family.

    If you don’t support gay unions, I understand. Truly. It is highly morally based. But think for one moment about this: we are not going away. I am not going to change my sexual orientation because of a piece of paper. I will still live with my partner, raise and care for my step-daughter, just the same, with or without the governments approval. Recognizing our union does a few things for the community – it allows us to become the stable parents, accountable parents, you wish for us to be. I would have to pay child support if my partner and I separated. That should be the case. If I walk away now, there is no guarantee of that for my partner. How stable is that?

    I go to parent teacher conference. I take her to tournament meets. My step-daughter is on the High Honor roll, placed 3rd in the State for bowling, is a devout Catholic who completed her confirmation just last year – by her choice. She wants to be an Elementary School teacher, she loves children. She is a child anyone would be proud of. And she is the result of a lesbian upbringing. She is open, honest, loving and accepting of all people – and she is also straight and dreams of a beautiful white wedding to the man of her dreams (and intends to keep herself chaste until marriage). I think her mother and I did a fine job, and I am sure you would agree if you could meet her.

    Honestly, don’t fear us. We are the same as you. We love and feel and are human, just as you. We have no intention of taking away the sanctity of your marriages. We honor them, because we are willing to live up to the standards of committment that marriage was originally praised for. Allow us to do this, and you will see gay and lesbian couples become responsible parents and committed spouses. This, I promise you.

  22. Jon on June 7, 2004 at 11:19 pm

    It is ironic, isn’t it, that few on the secular Left or the religious Right appreciate the freedoms that are bestowed to them by the United States. Obviously, civil liberties more often than not prevail, as this case demonstrates. Too bad the Right and Left, instead of recognzing their liberty, insist on sabotaging it with constant whining about how much better the world would be if their world view were legislated. If we allowed the Left and Right to have their way, neither one would be free. Ironic?

  23. Jon on June 7, 2004 at 11:19 pm

    It is ironic, isn’t it, that few on the secular Left or the religious Right appreciate the freedoms that are bestowed to them by the United States. Obviously, civil liberties more often than not prevail, as this case demonstrates. Too bad the Right and Left, instead of recognzing their liberty, insist on sabotaging it with constant whining about how much better the world would be if their world view were legislated. If we allowed the Left and Right to have their way, neither one would be free. Ironic?

  24. Jon on June 7, 2004 at 11:20 pm

    It is ironic, isn’t it, that few on the secular Left or the religious Right appreciate the freedoms that are bestowed to them by the United States. Obviously, civil liberties more often than not prevail, as this case demonstrates. Too bad the Right and Left, instead of recognzing their liberty, insist on sabotaging it with constant whining about how much better the world would be if their world view were legislated. If we allowed the Left and Right to have their way, neither one would be free. Ironic?


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