NPR Boosts Plight of Catholic School Teacher Fired For Same-Sex 'Marriage'

Adam Ragusea provided little balance on Wednesday's Morning Edition on NPR, as he covered a homosexual man's lawsuit against his former employer – a Catholic school – who let him go after he announced his planned same-sex "marriage" on Facebook. Ragusea played just one soundbite from a conservative legal scholar, and failed to include any from the local Catholic diocese or the school.

The Georgia Public Broadcasting correspondent touted how the supposedly "beloved" music teacher "has hope that he may be among the last generation of people who risk losing their job because they're gay." He also zeroed in on an ongoing lawsuit in Washington, DC that may give the educator ammo in his own litigation:

ADAM RAGUSEA: ...[A] judge in Washington made a ruling in a lawsuit brought by federal employee Peter TerVeer. He claims his supervisor at the Library of Congress made his work life miserable because he's gay.

LGBT rights attorney Greg Nevins is helping with TerVeer's case.

GREG NEVINS: His romantic or intimate interest in men is something that the women workers in that office are not penalized for, but he was. He made that claim in federal district court, and the court allowed him to proceed, despite a motion dismissed by the Department of Justice.

RAGUSEA: And now, the TreVeer case is giving hope to people like music teacher Flint Dollar. He's filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – or EEOC –  alleging sex discrimination.

Host Renee Montagne introduced Ragusea's report by outlining that "in Georgia, a Catholic school teacher, who is gay, was fired recently, when he announced he was getting married. Federal law does not prevent employers from firing someone on the basis of sexual orientation. So his lawyers are taking another approach."

Adam Ragusea, Georgia Public Broadcasting Correspondent; Screen Cap From YouTube.com Video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOaH_REGCUQThe journalist (pictured at right) wasted little time before using his "beloved" label about the former teacher, Flint Dollar, and played a clip from a school concert that apparently supported his description. Ragusea continued by noting that "Dollar is gay, and he says he was honest with school administrators about that when they hired him," and let Dollar tell his side of what took place. He included a mere passing mention of the school's statement on the controversy:

FLINT DOLLAR: If you're called in the last part of the day on the last day of the week, it's not a good sign. I was told that the bishop called – the bishop of the Diocese of Savannah called – and expressed his concern that if I was to return, it would be against the teachings of the Catholic Church.
               
ADAM RAGUSEA: So what changed? Well, Dollar had announced on Facebook that he plans to marry his longtime partner in Minnesota this summer. The Catholic Church's position against same-sex marriage is clear, and the diocese says they support the school in its decision to let Dollar go. School officials, without addressing this case specifically, released a statement – saying they have to consider an employee's ability to teach Catholic doctrine when making staff decisions.

DOLLAR: I was told very specifically, I didn't do anything wrong; that there were no parent complaints; no student complaints. But regardless, I would not be returning. I'm still kind of processing that.


Ragusea then played a soundbite each from Flint's lawyer and from attorney Greg Nevins, whom the correspondent labeled a "LGBT rights attorney," but didn't mention that he is a senior staff attorney for Lambda Legal, which is a prominent LGBT activist organization.

Toward the end of the report, the public radio correspondent played a clip from Matthew Franck, a "constitutional scholar at Princeton" who is also a director at the conservative Witherspoon Institute. But he concluded with a sympathetic clip from Flint:

RAGUSEA: And now, the TreVeer case is giving hope to people like music teacher Flint Dollar. He's filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – or EEOC –  alleging sex discrimination.

Matthew Frank, a constitutional scholar at Princeton, says that might work, but it shouldn't.

MATTHEW FRANCK, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: I realize that in – you know, half a century, a lot of judicial interpretation has gone into the application of Title VII. But I think it's fairly clear that Title VII's reference to sex as a category of discrimination – that the people who wrote that had nothing like sex orientation in their minds. It was not contemplated.

RAGUSEA: The EEOC said in a 2012 case that discrimination against trans-gender people constitutes sex discrimination. Franck says he's not a fan of that either, but he thinks it's at least a little closer to the original intent of the Civil Rights Act.

Back in Georgia, Flint Dollar practices organ at the Presbyterian church that hired him part-time while he looks for a job and fights his case. He says getting his old job back is not the goal.

DOLLAR: I don't want anybody else to have to go through what I've been through. This last month has been up and down. It's been painful. There are days that I don't want to get out of bed.

RAGUSEA: But as the courts keep rapidly changing the way they view sexual orientation, Dollar has hope that he may be among the last generation of people who risk losing their job because they're gay.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center