This is good news for gays & lesbians, but also for just about anybody who lives in Ohio and isn’t a right wing zealot. A federal appeals court ruled that the state can jack-up beat-down discipline state employees who discriminate and say their religion requires them to. In other words, they can’t hide their bigotry behind a bible and get away with it.
The decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati is an important legal development because it means employers can enforce workplace policies that forbid bias based on sexual orientation.
Had the ruling gone the other way, those workplace policies could have been in jeopardy. It appears to be the first case of its kind from Ohio and it may yet be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The case involves a lengthy dispute between a Protestant prison chaplain and his bosses in the state prison system. They clashed over the chaplain’s refusal to let an openly homosexual inmate direct a penitentiary choir in 2002.
William Akridge, a Baptist minister, welcomed gay inmates to his worship services but would not allow homosexuals to become leaders in the nondenominational events.
Of course, there’s some irony here. If every baptist minister in America barred gay people from their choirs and music ministries, there’d be a lot less music in most churches. And none at all, in some.
In any case, the prison chaplain could benefit from a little perspective from Kevin over at Preemptive Karma.