Court Upholds Firing of Anti-Gay College Employee

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Friday December 21, 2012

A federal appeals court has upheld the University of Toledo's decision to fire the college's vice president of human resources who was canned in 2008 after writing an article in a local newspaper where she condemned gay rights, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports. The University of Toledo is a public municipal university.

About four years ago, the Northwestern Ohio university fired Crystal Dixon over concerns about a column she wrote for the Toledo Free Press, where she said gays and lesbians have no claim to the civil rights movement.

"As a Black woman I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are civil rights victims," Dixon wrote. "I cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a Black woman. Daily thousands of homosexuals make a life decision to leave the gay lifestyle."

She added: "My final and most important point. There is a divine order. God created human kind male and female (Genesis 1:27). God created humans with an inalienable right to choose," she concluded. "There are consequences for each of our choices, including those who violate God's divine order."

Soon after she was let go, Dixon filed a complaint against the school in which she alleged that it violated her First Amendment and 14th Amendment rights. The university's officials defended the firing, however, and the college's president released a statement.

"The University of Toledo is committed to providing a safe, welcoming environment for all students, faculty, staff, patients and visitors, regardless of race, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation or physical ability," University President Dr. Lloyd Jacobs said in a statement.

When her lawsuit went to court, U.S. District Judge David Katz ruled against her and dismissed the case.

"The balance of [Dixon's] interest in making a comment of public concern is clearly outweighed by the University's interest as her employer in carrying out its own objectives," the judge wrote in an opinion. "Therefore, [Dixon] has failed to establish that her speech was protected. [Dixon] also claims that she was fired for violating an impermissibly vague speech policy. However, the damage she did to her ability to perform her job and to the University provide ample justification for her termination."

After appealing Katz's ruling, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled on Monday that Dixon's column "contradicted the very policies she was charged with creating, promoting, and enforcing," and her defense of being a private citizen does not excuse her from her remarks against LGBT rights. The panel supported Katz's decision and dismissed the case once again.