The Trump administration has sided with
a Catholic school that fired a teacher after he entered a same-sex
Joshua Payne-Elliott lost his job as a
world language and social studies teacher at Cathedral High School, a
private Catholic school, in Indianapolis in June 2019. His husband,
Layton Payne-Elliott, is a teacher at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory
School. After the couple married in 2017, the Catholic Church
directed the schools to fire both men.
The Archdiocese of Indianapolis
stripped Brebeuf of its Catholic status after it refused to fire
Layton Payne-Elliott. Days later, Cathedral fired Joshua
Payne-Elliott after the archdiocese threatened it with the same
In a statement to the parents and
staff, Cathedral called the decision to terminate Joshua
Payne-Elliott “agonizing” and “made after 22 months of earnest
Joshua Payne-Elliott sued the
Archdiocese of Indianapolis, claiming that it illegally interfered
with his employment relationship with Cathedral.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has
filed a brief in support of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. The case
is currently before the Indiana Supreme Court.
In the 36-page brief, U.S. Attorney
Josh Minkler for the Southern District of Indiana argues that the
archdiocese is protected under the First Amendment.
“[T]he First Amendment right of
expressive association protects the Archdiocese's right not to
associate with Cathedral, whose forced presence within the
Archdiocese's associational umbrella if it continued to employ
Payne-Elliott as a teacher would interfere with the Archdiocese's
public expression of Church doctrine regarding marriage,” Minkler
A gay guidance counselor at a separate
Catholic high school has also filed a federal lawsuit against the
archdiocese. Lynn Starkey says she was fired because of her same-sex
The Roman Catholic Church, which views
gay relationships as sinful, has taken a strong stand against
same-sex couples who marry.
According to New
Ways Ministry, a group that advocates on behalf of LGBT
Catholics, roughly 90 church workers “have lost their jobs in
LGBT-related employment disputes” since 2007.
minister says he was fired over liking a gay friend's wedding post on