Appeals Court Allows Censorship of Terms Such as ‘Marriage’ and ‘Family Values’

Earlier this week, the notorious Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the matter of Good News Employees Association v. Hicks that municipal employers can completely censor the terms "natural family," "marriage" and "family values" as hate speech.

The court concluded that municipalities have a right to literally dictate what form an employee's speech may take, even if it is in regard to controversial public issues. Shockingly, the court concluded that the interest of Christian employees in speaking out on the issue of marriage is "vanishingly small" and that the "administrative" interests of a city are more important than speech rights.

The court completely failed to address the concerns of the appellants with respect to the fact that the City of Oakland's Gay-Straight Employees Alliance was openly allowed to attack the Bible in widespread city e-mails, to deride Christian values as antiquated, and to refer to Bible-believing Christians as hateful. When the plaintiffs attempted to refute this blatant attack on people of faith, they were threatened with immediate termination by the City of Oakland. The Ninth Circuit did not feel that the threat of immediate termination had any effect on free speech.

The Pro-Family Law Center has vowed to immediately take this ruling up to the US Supreme Court on a petition for review.

Last month, attorneys Scott Lively and Richard D. Ackerman argued the case on behalf of an African-American Christian woman who was threatened with termination at her job with the City of Oakland. The City of Oakland claimed that references to the "natural family, marriage and family values" constituted hate speech which is scary to city workers. Mr. Lively argued that the terms "marriage," "family values" and "natural family" could just have easily been used by gay activists in expressing their opinions on the issue of same-sex marriage. Mr. Ackerman argued that the Pro-Family Law Center's clients were entitled to the exact same free speech rights as those who had openly attacked the Bible through the city's lines of communication with full approval of high ranking officials.

The Ninth Circuit panel of judges included Judges Fletcher, Clifton, and Ikuta. Without citing a specific author for the memorandum of decision, the Court wrote, "the district court correctly held that [the City of Oakland] had a more substantial interest in maintaining the efficient operation of their office than appellants had in their speech, appellants cannot establish a viable free speech claim."

Back in February of 2005, District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled the city of Oakland had a right to bar two employees from posting a Good News Employee Association flier promoting traditional family values on an office bulletin board. According to the lawsuit, gay and lesbian city workers had already been using the city's e-mail, bulletin board, and written communications systems for promoting their views to other workers, including the plaintiffs.

In fact, the e-mail system was even used by a high-ranking official of the City of Oakland to declare that the Bible "needs updating" and other insulting comments were lobbed at the plaintiffs by city employees and officials. No action was taken against those responsible for the public attack on the Bible and Christians.

Plaintiffs, Regina Rederford and Robin Christy posted the flier in response to an e-mail to city employees announcing formation of a gay and lesbian employee association and other communications. The two Christians responded with a promotion of their own — the start of an informal group that respects "the natural family, marriage and family values."

But supervisors Robert Bobb (now in charge of the Washington DC school district) and Joyce Hicks, (deputy director of the Oakland Community and Economic Development Agency) ordered removal of the flier, stating it contained "statements of a homophobic nature" and promoted "sexual-orientation-based harassment," even though the flyer made absolutely no mention of homosexuality.

The July 2003 lawsuit by Rederford and Christy claimed the city's anti-discrimination policy "promotes homosexuality" and "openly denounces Christian values."

Judge Walker dismissed the case in February 2005, ruling the two women did not have their First Amendment rights violated and that federal anti-discrimination protections afforded to gender, race, and religion did not apply to the women plaintiffs.

In a memo announcing a newly revised workplace anti-discrimination policy, Hicks noted recent incidents of employees "inappropriately posting materials" in violation of that policy. At the time she noted, "Specifically, flyers were placed in public view which contained statements of a homophobic nature and were determined to promote sexual orientation-based harassment."

Attorney Richard Ackerman says, "We are going to take this case right up the steps of the United States Supreme Court. We are simply unwilling to accept that Christians can be completely silenced on the issues of the day — especially on issues such as same-sex marriage, parental rights, and free speech rights. If we fail to get U.S. Supreme Court review, however, it will be up to each individual Christian in the United States to stand up for their rights to be heard on the issues of the day. If we choose to be silent, silenced we shall be."

 

Read unpublished "memorandum" by the Court.

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  • Guest

    Apparently free speech only applies to certain constituents in this country.

  • Guest

    Reports say that England has moved to censor religious and moral formation in private religious schools, activists in Canada have started clamoring for same and, bit by bit, place by place the censorship is on in the USA. Listening from the outside, it seems that the hope for victory for most legal battles lies in the Supreme Court, a long and expensive journey (not so?). At first, Black South Africans lost their rights bit by bit, the forced circumstances of Black Americans are also known. Recently, CE featured articles on Wilberforce, good. Now it seems the battle cry is to rouse the faithful who are in trenches, those who are oppressed and heavy burdened. Are we Catholics, all Christians and men of goodwill, willing to heed a present battle cry of a 'Manhatma Gandhi' and a 'Martin Luther King?' What price are we willing to pay for our religious freedom?

    O Lord grant that I may always cooperate with Your Grace to not be ashamed or afraid to witness to You. Please help those who face grave threats and intimidation at this time, and those of us whose time is coming. Amen

  • Guest

    God loves you .

    Do notice in their not-to-be-published memorandum they cite only their own prior mostly bogus precedents.

    This sort of nonsense comes out of such as our activist and egoist federal courts when the Congress does not slap them down for legislating from the bench. Some impeachments are long overdue for many such re-definers of the Constitution.

    Of course, Catholicism lacks a strong leading voice – one more instance of our ordinaries being just too very ordinary. We should have a sort of local Benedict XVI who gives the full Magisterium voice in the American hierarchy.

    Do you notice the silence, too?

    Remember, I love you, too

    Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell @catholicexchange.com or … yahoo.com)

  • Guest

    God loves you .

    ( – hmmm – SORRY! – musta hit a button twice – but, things are strange around here, today, anyway )

    Remember, I love you, too

    Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell @catholicexchange.com or … yahoo.com)

  • Guest

    God loves you .

    ?????????????????????????????????????????????/////

    I do know that I probably did not hit the same button a third time

    ??????????????????????????????????????????????????

    Remember, I love you, too

    Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell @catholicexchange.com or … yahoo.com)

  • Guest

    "These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own."

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