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NY: Employee canned by bible-beating boss after coming out

The clash between church and state — religious conservatives claiming employing LGBTs infringes on their religious beliefs versus  anti-discrimination laws — is in stark relief in a case in NYC.

A Queens jewelry manufacturer, Ted Doudak, head of Riva Jewelry Manufacturing, is appealing a decision by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Carol Edmead to force him to testify in a discrimination case about his motive for firing John Fairchild, an employee who revealed to Doudak that he was gay. Fairchild was let go the next day.  (365gay):

The lawsuit alleges that Doudak called gays and lesbians “repulsive” and that he regularly quoted biblical passages at work.

During a pretrial hearing before a master rather than a judge, called discovery, Doudak refused to answer questions by Fairchild’s lawyer about the allegations claiming his views are constitutionally protected religious beliefs.

William Kaiser, Fairchild’s attorney, objected and went to Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Carol Edmead. Edmead ordered Doudak to answer Kaiser’s questions.

She ruled that no one can use their right to religious freedom “as a cloak for acts of discrimination.

In an interview with the New York Daily News Kaiser said that “a lot of discrimination against homosexuals has a religious motivation.” Kaiser said that the ruling means: “People who hold those views have to know they can’t act on them with regard to employment.”

In 33 states, it is legal to fire someone simply because of his or her sexual orientation; in 42 states you can be terminated based on gender identity. That’s why the Employee Non-Discrimination Act is sitting up there on the Hill, waiting to be voted on by Congress.

However, we know what’s coming — Doudak’s attorney is already bleating the fundie line — the judge’s action is setting a precedent that personal religious beliefs/affiliation are under attack.

“You’re attacking perceived religious affiliation in an attempt to make a claim,” [Todd] Krakower told the Daily News. “He’s trying to prove a case through religious affiliation, and that’s improper.”

Back in the day, many people of faith including leaders such as the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, supported segregation and opposed interracial marriage, citing their religious beliefs and the bible to justify discrimination. The civil rights movement and a hailstorm of lawsuits moving up to the high court eventually resulted in equal protection under the law.

Doudek would have been asked about his religious views then and he would have no right to fire Fairchild, or to appeal on the grounds that he is using today. ENDA simply adds sexual orientation or gender identity to already protected classes. Perhaps Doudek would like gender, race and religion to be struck from existing laws.

Might I quote this gem:

“We do have freedom of religion in this country — but freedom of religion, like all of our other rights, is not a right that dominates everything else. That is, in the process of exercising your freedom of religion, you can’t be advocating or promoting violence against the United States and our people, or otherwise inciting people to riot, or to destroy or break the law.”
— American Values head (and failed presidential candidate) Gary Bauer. He was referring to the right of feds  to monitor Islamic religious materials and “worship areas” being used by inmates, but those words ring true for all sorts of circumstances, such as this one. Thanks Gary.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding