Indiana Court denies lawsuit filed by a gay Catholic teacher
An Indiana court dismissed a gay teacher’s lawsuit alleging he was fired from his position in a Catholic high school after marrying another man.
According to The Indianapolis Star, Joshua Payne-Elliott worked as a world language and social studies teacher at Cathedral High School from 2006 to 2019.
Joshua, The Star notes, married Layton Payne-Elliot, a teacher at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, in 2017. Shortly after the couple married, the Indianapolis Archdiocese ordered Brebeuf to end Layton’s employment.
Brebeuf refused, however, and caused the archdiocese to threaten that it would strip down the preparatory school if it had Catholic status. Brebeuf resisted, however, and filed a lawsuit; Your case is still awaiting appeal.
Becket attorney and vice president Luke Goodrich, who represented the archdiocese, said the court’s decision to dismiss Joshua Payne-Elliott’s lawsuit was a victory for religious freedom.
“If the first change means something, it means the government cannot punish the Catholic Church for asking Catholic educators to support Catholic education,” Goodrich said. “This has always been a very easy case as the Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed the freedom of religious schools to choose teachers who support their religious beliefs.”
Becket said it took the Indianapolis Archdiocese two years – from the couple’s wedding in 2017 to 2019 – to decide their reactions to the men’s marriage. In 2019 the Archdiocese ordered Cathedral High School and Brebeuf to fire both men.
The civil marriage of men, according to the archdiocese, violates the teachings and views of the church on gay marriage.
The Payne-Elliotts had argued in their lawsuit that their employment contracts did not contain a “morality clause” required by the archdiocese of some schools.
Archbishop Charles Thompson later stated that Joshua Payne-Elliott was fired not because he was attracted to men but because he was in a same-sex civil marriage.
“In this particular case, we are dealing with ministers in our church. Teachers, counselors, other leaders, school leaders, and other archdiocese leaders are required to live these principles, ”Thompson said.
As a result, the Archdiocese requested that both Joshua and Layton Payne-Elliott be removed from their positions.
“Every Catholic school teacher in the archdiocese signs an agreement to uphold the teachings of the Church in word and deed. The teacher here was fired after joining a same-sex association because he knew this agreement and millennia of Catholic teaching had been violated, “Goodrich wrote on Twitter.
Goodrich and Becket also explained the arguments used in support of the Catholic Church’s position.
“Church autonomy that protects internal religious governance,” “Expressive Association that protects the ability to form groups to express a message,” and “The ministerial exception that protects the freedom to choose religious leaders,” wrote Goodrich.
“It is important that the courts consistently uphold the right of religious groups to act on their religious principles,” he added. “The choice of who teaches in a religious school is a religious decision. Today’s order ensures that these decisions are made by churches and not governments. “
Indiana Supreme Court drops lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Indianapolis
The dismissed head teacher of the cathedral’s lawsuit for same-sex marriage is dismissed