Catholic school can fire teacher for being in same-sex marriage, Indiana court rules

by Michael Gryboski

An Indiana court has dismissed a lawsuit filed against a Roman Catholic Archdiocese by a former private school teacher who was fired for being in a same-sex marriage.

Marion Superior Court Judge Lance D. Hamner issued an order Friday in favor of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis’ motion to dismiss a lawsuit by former teacher Joshua Payne-Elliot.

According to the order, the court concluded that there was a “lack of subject matter jurisdiction” and “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”

Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel at Becket, a law firm that represented the archdiocese, released a statement Friday expressing support for the order.

“If the First Amendment means anything, it means the government can’t punish the Catholic Church for asking Catholic educators to support Catholic teaching,” Goodrich said.

“This has always been a very simple case, because the Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed the freedom of religious schools to choose teachers who support their religious faith.”

Kathleen DeLaney, the attorney representing Payne-Elliott, told the Indianapolis Star that she took issue with the order, especially its explanation for the complaint's dismissal.

“The decision itself offers no reason, no rationale, no basis,” DeLaney said. “We have no way to know how the judge got to the decision.”

In June 2019, Payne-Elliot was fired from Cathedral High School after it was revealed that he had married another teacher of the same sex who worked at a different high school.

The firing reportedly came at the specific direction of the archdiocese, as the school had originally intended to renew his contract for the 2019-2020 school year.

Although Payne-Elliot reached a settlement with Cathedral High School soon after his firing, he filed legal action against the archdiocese, accusing it of forcing the school to dismiss him.

“We hope that this case will put a stop to the targeting of LGBTQ employees and their families,” said Payne-Elliot in a statement at the time, as reported by the Indianapolis Star.

A trial court had originally supported having the case go forward, however, the Indiana state Supreme Court intervened and told the lower court to reconsider the complaint.

In July 2020, the United States Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that two Catholic schools could classify their teachers as ministers and not be held to the standards of anti-discrimination laws.

Justice Samuel Alito delivered the opinion of the court, known as Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru, which regarded two lawsuits against two Catholic schools in California.

“The religious education and formation of students is the very reason for the existence of most private religious schools, and therefore the selection and supervision of the teachers upon whom the schools rely to do this work lie at the core of their mission,” Alito wrote.

“Judicial review of the way in which religious schools discharge those responsibilities would undermine the independence of religious institutions in a way that the First Amendment does not tolerate.”

Source:  https://www.christianpost.com/news/catholic-school-can-fire-teacher-for-being-in-same-sex-marriage-judge-rules.html



Kansas Teacher in Unified School District 475 suspended for not using trans pronouns secures temporary court order

by Michael Gryboski

A federal judge has granted a temporary order in the case of a Kansas teacher suing her school district over policies requiring teachers to use the preferred names and pronouns of trans-identified students and hide those preferences from parents. 

U.S. District Judge Holly Teeter partially granted a preliminary injunction on behalf of Fort Riley Middle School teacher Pamela Ricard preventing Geary County Schools Unified School District 475 from disciplining her for not referring to a student’s preferred name and pronouns in her communications with a trans-identified student’s parents "within the regular course of her duties."

The injunction lasts until next Wednesday or “at the conclusion of Plaintiff’s contractual responsibilities to the District, whichever is later." The court stated that the motion was issued in light of the fact that the teacher doesn't plan to communicate with a parent to disclose a student’s preferred name and pronouns.

Ricard sued Geary County Schools Unified School District 475 after being suspended in April 2021 for three days and given a reprimand because she called a biologically female student by her legal name and used female pronouns.

Ricard's lawsuit names school district board members, Superintendent Reginald Eggleston and Fort Riley Principal Kathleen Brennan.

Teeter, a Trump appointee, found that Ricard "is likely to succeed on her free exercise claim for the Communication with Parent Policy" but denied a preliminary injunction to Ricard's claims against the school district policy requiring teachers to use preferred names and pronouns in class. 

Teeter concluded that Ricard could still be punished under the Communication with Parents Policy, which “prohibits employees from revealing to parents that a student has requested use of a preferred name or different set of pronouns at school” except under certain circumstances.

She wrote that while both parties reached a "détente" regarding the Preferred Names and Pronouns Policy, they are "very much at odds over the Communication with Parents Policy and the potential for disciplinary action should Plaintiff violate it." The policy prohibits employees from revealing to parents that a student has requested use of a preferred name or different set of pronouns at school “unless the student requests the administration or a counselor to do so, per Federal FERPA guidance.”

“Defendants are ENJOINED from disciplining Plaintiff for referring to a student by the student’s preferred name and pronouns in her communications with the student’s parents within the regular course of her duties,” ruled Teeter.

“The Court relies on Plaintiff’s statements that she does not intend to communicate with a parent for the sole purpose of disclosing a student’s preferred name and pronouns.”

Ricard is represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal nonprofit based in Arizona that has argued several high-profile religious liberty cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer said in a statement Tuesday that he believes the government cannot “force someone to speak contrary to their deeply held religious beliefs and convictions.”[NOTE to Parents:Take your heads out of the sand and LOOK at what public education is making YOU pay for.. why keep your kid in that kind of environmentl? - ED]

“Pam has a distinguished teaching career and treats all her students with dignity and respect," the attorney said. "We’re pleased the court has freed her to exercise her constitutionally protected freedom to teach and communicate honestly with parents while this case moves forward."

The lawsuit claims that neither the school district nor the school had a "formal policy" in place dictating that teachers use the preferred name and pronouns at the time Ricard was suspended. 

“Instead, Ms. Ricard was suspended and reprimanded under generic school district policies related to Bullying by Staff; Diversity and Inclusion; and Staff-Student Relations prohibiting ‘harassment’ and ‘bullying’ of students by staff," the complaint claims. [Oh, Bullshit! ! This is nothing but LGBTQ propaganda aimed at compromising your child's social beliefs and leading them down the wrong path in life. THIS is indoctrination NOT education. - ED]

Will Rapp of the Kansas chapter of the LGBT advocacy group GLSEN believes that not affirming the gender identity of trans-identified children is harmful to trans-identified youth. [How stupid is this? Simple gender dysphoria is NOT a life changinne experience. Most kids will out gwow it. if left alone. -ED]

“This incident isn’t an isolated issue," Rapp told CNN. "According to GLSEN research, more than 40% of transgender students in Kansas report being unable to use their chosen name and correct pronouns in school."

“When educators express this kind of anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment it sends a message that school is not a safe place and many LGBTQ+ youth and especially transgender youth feel unable to approach trusted educators for support.”
[Oh, really?! And what do you suppose taking away the teacher's 1st Amendment rights are...?

Rapp also argues that educators “must be held accountable for creating a safe and affirming environment for all students, regardless of gender identity.”

The school district argued that a preliminary injunction would hinder its “obligations to protect young persons entrusted to its care." 

"The Court recognizes that the District is trying to create a stable learning environment for children. But the District fails to articulate any specific, concrete harms sufficient to outweigh Plaintiff’s weighty interest in preliminary relief," Teeter wrote. "Therefore, the balance of harms favors Plaintiff."



Middle of the night Legislation: Here Are the Republicans Who Voted for Gun Control Legislation Behind Your Back..

by Jeff Charles


There is a reason why I constantly argue that the primary elections might be even more important than the upcoming midterms. The Senate, including Republicans, passed legislation on Saturday night that would make things harder for gun owners and those attempting to obtain firearms.

Ammoland News reported:

In the middle of the night, the U.S. Senate passed the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2022 (VAWA). Some gun rights groups raised alarm bells when this act passed the U.S. House of Representatives last year with Republican support. At the time, Republicans like Dan Crenshaw said that the anti-gun provisions of the bill would be removed and accused Gun Owners of America (GOA) of fearmongering to fundraise.

Democrats and Republicans led by Senator Jodi Ernst negotiated the bill’s anti-gun provisions.

Many of the GOP senators who vowed not to vote for the bill if it still included anti-gun provisions ended up supporting it. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MI) voted in favor of the measure, which is notable because she released a statement to Ammoland News vowing never to vote for such a proposal. Her office wrote:

Senator Hyde-Smith’s position on the Second Amendment has not changed.  The underlying measure placed before the Senate was one to keep the government operating and help the people of Ukraine fight an unhinged foreign dictator. Senator Hyde-Smith does not support the mentioned VAWA provisions and will continue to fight to protect Second Amendment rights.

Here is a full list of the Republican senators who voted for the bill:

    Barrasso (R-WY)

Blunt (R-MO)

Capito (R-WV)

Collins (R-ME)

Cornyn (R-TX)

Ernst (R-IA)

Graham (R-SC)

Grassley (R-IA)

Hyde-Smith (R-MS)

McConnell (R-KY)

Moran (R-KS)

Murkowski (R-AK)

Portman (R-OH)

Shelby (R-AL)

Thune (R-SD)

Tuberville (R-AL)

Wicker (R-MS)

Young (R-IN)

If any of these lawmakers belong to you, it might be time to get on the phone or keyboard and let them know what you think. It may also be motivation to make sure you show up during the primary elections and help to send actual conservatives to Washington, D.C.

When you understand what is included in these provisions, you will understand why it is so important to call these people out. For starters, it includes the NICS Denial Notification Act. This would require federal authorities to refer those whose background checks are denied to state and local law enforcement when they attempt to purchase a firearm or obtain a license to carry. This would likely result in these agencies investigating the person who was denied regardless of evidence of wrongdoing. Given that most NICS denials are false, it is not difficult to see how this could be a problem. [This ISN't about curbing violence on women; It's an attack on gun ownership. You WILL be prosecuted for the 'thought crime' - of desiring a gun - ED]

Another part of the bill would allow the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to deputize members of local law enforcement to do its dirty work. “This provision is a direct attack against states with Second Amendment Protection Acts (SAPA),” according to Ammoland News. These bills prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from enforcing federal gun laws. With this provision, the ATF can essentially make local police officers into federal authorities, meaning they can get around SAPA laws.

Another provision would fund research on gun violence, which sounds nice, but is far more insidious than it appears. Ammoland News explains:

Research into gun violence has always been flawed in the past. Instead of using evidence-based science to come to a conclusion, the government has been caught using a predetermined result. The federal agency would decide on a conclusion they wanted first and work backward by using evidence to back up their opinion while ignoring evidence contradicting their stance. The practice was highlighted by whistleblower Dr. Miguel Faria whose testimony in front of Congress ended funding for gun violence research by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

The fact that Republican senators would vote for such a proposal demonstrates one of two things: They don’t care what you think, or they didn’t think you would find out. This is a prime example showing how many so-called conservatives in Congress are willing to abandon their supposed principles for the sake of political expediency. Unfortunately, they will never stop until they are made to pay for their duplicity during primary season.





Free speech and free press under huge assault in Montana by LGBT legal network

by Mass Resistance (excerpted from the Montana Daily Gazette)


Jordan Hall, Baptist pastor and publisher of popular conservative news site, sued for libel by transgender lobbyist

State’s left-wing legal establishment & well-funded LGBT “lawfare” mob seek to stop site’s influential voice

Far-left Judge to hold preliminary hearing Feb. 16 to determine whether pastor is a “dangerous person"

ALT TEXT

Pastor Jordan Hall with his wife and five children.

A conservative pastor who is the publisher of Montana’s largest and most influential conservative news site is being sued for “libel” by a bizarre transgender lobbyist. The leftist judge assigned to the case is also threatening the pastor with fines and a gag order even before the trial takes place.

This assault on free speech and free press is buttressed by the state’s far-left legal establishment and appears to be funded by the wealthy LGBT and Planned Parenthood lobby. The aggressive legal action, including an invasive “discovery” process of the pastor’s media operation, is clearly aimed to put the conservative news site and its subsidiary voices out of business. The radicals would even like to dictate what the pastor may say in his own church.

Background

Montana Democrats are still reeling from the Republican blowout victory in the 2020 election. Republicans now have a super-majority in both houses of the Legislature, and hold the Governorship and all statewide offices (Attorney General, Secretary of State, Supervisor of Public Instruction, Auditor).

Paradoxically, the judiciary in Montana is dominated by leftists. The state’s only law school is at the very liberal University of Montana and the state’s lawyers – and thus the judges – are far more left-wing than the general population.

Just as in DC back in 2016, the Democrats’ response to the Republican sweep has been to lash out wildly. Leftist attorneys are using the liberal courts in Montana to challenge conservative bills passed in the 2021 legislative session (pro-life laws, the ban on transgender boys in girls’ sports, strengthening parents’ rights, reining in sex ed, strengthening election law, and banning discrimination on the basis of vaccination status). They are also contesting Attorney General Knudsen’s and Supervisor of Public Instruction Arntzen’s policies banning Critical Race Theory and declaring masks optional in schools.

One news site stands out

As in other conservative areas, the news media across the state is also horribly left-wing. The one prominent exception is the Montana Daily Gazette, published by Jordan (“JD”) Hall, who is also a Baptist minister. The Gazette is bold and straight-shooting, with a down-to-earth style – and is definitely not “PC.” It has caught the attention of Montanans tired of the other news outlets. On many days, the Gazette often claims the highest readership of any news source in Montana. Some say its fearless reporting contributed to the Republican sweep in the 2020 election.

ALT TEXT

Hall is also very influential in Montana through his other conservative Christian media. He runs the well-respected religious blog Protestia, the podcast Pulpit & Pen, and a radio station. He shares Christian truth without reservation.

While many conservatives are becoming reluctant to speak out publicly on hot-button issues, Pastor Hall is fearless – and has definitely become a thorn in the side of the Left in Montana.

Bizarre transgender lobbyist in the Montana Capitol

Adrian Jawort identifies as “transgender” and is a member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe. He is also a registered lobbyist in the Montana legislature. He is quite a sight in that building. As his own attorneys describe him:

Adrian is physically distinctive: Native American, transgender, 6’3” in heels, always dressed in black dresses and hosiery, her [sic] black hair trimmed short on the sides with curls falling down her [sic] forehead.

ALT TEXT
Mr. Jawort dressed for his pro-transgender lobbying at the Montana Capitol in 2021. He was especially angry over the bill to outlaw “transgender” surgical procedures for minors and the bill (now law) to ban transgender boys from girls’ sports. (Photo from Hall’s May 3, 2021 Gazette column)

In the 2021 session, Jawort lobbied against the (successful) bill banning “transgender” boys in girls’ sports, and the (failed) bill to ban surgical procedures to “transition” minors.

His demeanor and antics around the Capitol are infamous. According to Hall, Jawort and another transgender activist simulated sodomy in the Supreme Court chambers until told by security to leave.

ALT TEXT
Photo in Hall’s report: Jawort (2nd from left) and friends in the Montana Supreme Court chambers.

Legislators were familiar with Jawort’s “torrent of obscene, angry social media posts that he published throughout the 2021 legislative session” (according to a court filing by Hall). Luckily, Hall took screen shots of some of those posts before Jawort deleted them.

We have been told that at first many legislators did not know Jawort was a lobbyist, but assumed he was a homeless man wandering around the building. Not surprisingly, “numerous legislators” had contacted Hall with concerns about Jawort’s lobbying style.

The incident

On April 22, 2021, one of the most controversial transgender bills of the legislative session, HB 112 (the bill barring transgender male students from participating on female sports teams), was scheduled for a vote on the Senate floor. Six or seven transgender activists, including Jawort, converged on the Montana Capitol that day to try to halt its passage. According to a court filing, Jawort made clear earlier in the day that he would vigorously lobby Senators to vote against HB 112.

Some people later contacted Hall to report that Jawort and his cohorts, wearing Covid masks and makeup, encountered legislators in the Capitol hallways. Allegedly, there was some abusive language directed at the legislators, and one of them, an elderly Senator, had to be escorted away to avoid the disturbance.

Before publishing his report on the event, Jordan Hall contacted Jawort asking to get his side of the story. But Jawort refused to talk with him.

On May 3, 2021, the Montana Daily Gazette published Hall’s article, Who’s the Gothic Transvestite Haunting the Halls of the Montana Capitol? It did not hold back in its general description of Jawort, culled from the numerous phone calls Hall had received:

Fooling precisely no one, the man has been seen wandering the Montana State Capitol like an out-of-place Sasquatch in goth make-up, looking for a snack or someone to yell at. The ill-tempered, dress-wearing man was regularly seen in the gallery of both the House and Senate, chastising legislators with his wagging, giant man fingers, and sitting in fish-net stockings reapplying his make-up with all the precision of a birthday clown with a bad hangover.

The article also included these two profane quotes from Jawort’s social media posts:

Fascist f***s. Tomorrow I will file paperwork likely leading to a lawsuit challenging one of the many anti-trans bills. My reward will be seeing my name dragged through the mud. Being mocked by good Christians and doxxed…

Fight the power of the State of Montana. F*** your #Montaliban theocracy. I am not a political pawn in a chess game–someone to be used for ‘culture war’ clout and fodder. I am a f***ing Indigenous Queen of these Indian Lands.

Regarding the confrontation with legislators, the Gazette article simply had two sentences:

Reportedly, the angry transvestite and several of his associates had cornered Senator Butch Gillespie in an angry tirade. Also reportedly, Montana Family Foundation President Jeff Laszloffy escorted Sen. Gillespie to the Sergeant of Arms for his protection.

Those two sentences are now at the center of the huge lawsuit. They would seem rather innocuous, especially given the larger context.

Jawort ignites over the article – files failed lawsuit

On July 12, 2021, Jawort filed a complaint against Hall in Richland County Court (where Hall’s hometown of Sidney is located). He demanded monetary damages for Hall’s “transphobic” statements and for supposedly “doxing” him (though Hall had included only publicly available information from Jawort’s public Facebook or tweets).

But there is no such crime as “transphobia” in Montana law (or US law), and the case went nowhere. Nevertheless, Jawort set up a GoFundMe page for his attempted lawsuit charging “transphobic hate speech.”

ALT TEXT
Partial screen shot of Jawort’s GoFundMe page (accessed 2-13-22)

A new lawsuit – alleging libel

Soon after that, Jawort connected with a group of well-heeled leftist attorneys willing to take on his case. He is now being represented by Attorney Raph Graybill and two attorneys at the Upper Seven Law firm, Constance Van Kley and Rylee Sommers-Flanagan. Graybill is a well-known Montana attorney who recently ran for state Attorney General (losing 59%-41%). The Upper Seven Law firm is a social-justice group apparently set up for cases like this. All three attorneys clerked at the left-leaning Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The attorneys re-filed the case and changed the charge to libel. They are focusing only on the two sentences cited above: "Reportedly, the angry transvestite and several of his associates had cornered Senator Butch Gillespie in an angry tirade. Also reportedly, Montana Family Foundation President Jeff Laszloffy escorted Sen. Gillespie to the Sergeant of Arms for his protection." 

They are claiming that Jawort was not present at that confrontation – not part of the group that accosted the legislators – so these are false, libelous statements. They assert that since the group was wearing masks, it was only assumed that Jawort was one of them. They are seeking $250,000 in damages from Hall.

The claim of libel would not appear to hold much water: (1) Hall’s article said only that Jawort was “reportedly” part of the group. That is not a false statement. (2) Despite a mask, Jawort is a very recognizable figure – a 6’3” man wearing a black dress with a distinctive voice. (3) Hall attempted to get Jawort’s side of the story, but Jawort refused. (4) By any sensible legal definition, Jawort is a “limited public figure” which in Montana requires a high standard for libel. (5) Hall relied on credible sources who identified Jawort as the individual who accosted the Senator, and as a credentialed journalist he does not have to reveal these sources.

The arguments put forth in Jawort’s lawyers’ filings appear to be very weak and amateurish, though strongly worded. Thus, in a normal court this would [NOT] get very far. But this isn’t a normal situation at all.

Judge shopping

Through a series of events, Jawort’s lawyers were able to get the case heard in a different county under a judge, Elizabeth Best, who is arguably the most ruthlessly left-wing in the state. She is notorious among Montanans for her leftist judicial activism (A Change.org petition has 2,325 signatures calling for her removal from the bench.)

ALT TEXT
Judge Elizabeth Best [Great Falls Tribune photo]

Judicial bias and enormous legal harassment

Judge Best has not hidden her disdain for Pastor Hall. In one court ruling, she characterized his article as using “an offensive and ignorant epithet used by transphobic people, obviously aimed at demeaning Jawort.” Thus, the judge is accusing him of ignorance and “transphobia” – and even before the trial, exposes her belief that Hall intended to demean (libel) Jawort.

She has ruled that Jawort is not a “limited public figure,” and that the confrontation incident had no connection to Jawort’s work as a lobbyist. This means that the plaintiff does not have to prove “malice,” just “negligence” on Hall’s part.

Judge Best has allowed Jawort’s lawyers to conduct an enormous amount of legal harassment against Hall, mostly in form of incredibly aggressive “discovery” demands, almost on a daily basis. Jawort’s lawyers are demanding records and other information on virtually everything about the Montana Daily Gazette business, plus extensive information about everyone who works there. He’s being told to provide his text messages and emails going back years on every person he’s contacted. He must provide copies of every sermon he has given, every manuscript he has written, and even his sermon and public speaking notes. Objections to this by Hall’s lawyer have been overruled by Judge Best. (Moreover, it is well known that Best is close friends with Graybill, Jawort's lawyer.)

It's been estimated that Jawort's legal team has already spent over $150,000 on this case - and the trial hasn't even begun.

Christian verses certainly anger this fellow. The Satanic horns, inverted cross on his forehead, and blood dripping from his mouth indicate where he’s coming from.  (Photo: Jawort’s public Facebook page)

Special hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 16 to determine if Hall is a “threat” to public order

Pastor Hall’s actual trial hasn’t been scheduled. But Judge Best is conducting a special hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 16, to determine if Hall is a “threat” to public order.

Over the past few months, Hall has traveled around the state giving speeches in order to raise money for his legal defense. His lawyer says he will need a minimum of $100,000. (He has raised a little about $45,000 so far.) His speeches are mostly to Christian groups. Being a Baptist pastor, Hall uses a lot of Bible quotes and Christian imagery. Jawort’s lawyers are charging – and Judge Best seems to be agreeing – that these speeches somehow constitute “threats” to the plaintiff, the judge, and others. (Of course, Hall has no history whatsoever of threats or violence.) The judge is prepared to impose extreme sanctions on Hall over this.

ALT TEXT
Pastor Hall at a rally at the Montana Capitol in Helena. (Photo: Brandi Lyon)

Best is also angry that Hall is reluctant to follow her “mask mandate” in the courtroom. Montana has no mask mandates whatsoever at this time, and it is very questionable whether Best has the authority to impose one.

According to information we have, Best has likely decided to impose both judicial and financial sanctions at the hearing on Wednesday. The judicial sanctions could include a gag order or other limitations. The financial sanctions could be a fine anywhere from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's also likely she could declare a default judgment against him, so a trial would not even be held.

This is the frightening state of affairs in the supposedly “red” state of Montana. We will report on what happens at the hearing.

Final thoughts

Throughout all this, the thing that has saddened Pastor Hall the most, he told us, is the number of conservative Christian pastors who have shied away from publicly supporting him. It’s not that they think he’s wrong. They privately admit that they are “afraid” of the LGBT movement and the power of the state. As one pastor told him, “I just can’t have them picketing my church.”

God Bless Jordan Hall. We need a thousand more like him. You can donate to his legal defense fund here.

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