Monday, October 23, 2006

Fired for Opposing Gay Marriage?

According to Agape Press:

Luis Padilla was reportedly terminated from his employment at a Cargill Foods plant in Harrisonburg because of a written message on the rear window of his pickup truck that read: "Please, vote for marriage on Nov. 7." That is the day when voters in Virginia will be considering a proposed amendment to the state constitution protecting traditional marriage.

The article goes on to complain that this is example of PC run amok. Obviously, there is more to this story than meets the eye, and I am not going to pretend to have all of the facts. Read the story if you can; it's a tough read because the reporting style of Apgape Press oozes bigotry. I have read numerous accounts of this story and all but a few miss the real story entirely.

The story is not about Mr. Padilla's free speech rights; he has none in this case. The story is not about political correctness. The story is not about a company defending itself from lawsuits, although all these things add to the drama. This is about blatant hypocrisy on the part religious conservatives.

This is the bottom line;
The folks at Apgape Press believe that they should be protected when then speak out for their values, but they won't give the other side the same protection. The religious conservative believes that a company reserves the right to fire gay employees just because they are gay, but expects their bigotted views to be protected by law.

That is hypocrisy, and we should call it out.


RedStateExile said...

I've read about this on other blogs. My first reaction is that I wouldn't want the same thing to happen to me (I have had it happen to me). I do have pro-gay stickers on my car. I wouldn't want to be told to take them off or else be fired. However, unless the playing ground is going to be level, where I, as a gay employee, is just as protected for my political opinions as a hyper-religious person is for theirs, then the company is right, I guess. That is their way of leveling the playing field, so to speak, or at least it should be.

John Hosty said...

Callie, I don't think your job would necessarily be in jeopardy unless like this man your job involved representing the company. We also don't know the other side of the story. This man claims that he was fired for the sign, but the company claims he was fired for insubordination. We may find later that he told them off or something, this can't be the whole story, just consider how many times we find the radical right lying.

John said...

Of course as usual, nothing is a simple as Agape Press makes it out to be. In this case, the company got a complaint from at least one worker and they told him to remove the message and he did. But then he put it back on and parked his vehicle in another parking lot, but it was still within view of his intended audience. We don't know what was said between him and management, but they fired him for insubordination.

Free speech issues are complex in a private company because the company reserves the right to silence any speech that it feels in not within the best interest of the company. (Growing up, I was not allowed to buy Milton Bradley games because my father worked for Parker Brothers, and that was their rules).

Complicating it further, the company runs a risk of a harrassment lawsuit if it did not address the worker's complaint. Whether you and I agree with the law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 can easily be construed such that an employee bothered by Mr. Padilla's message would have grounds for a suit.

Complicating it still further, Mr. Padilla was a member of the company's HR department. Rightly or wrongly, he could be seen as a voice of the company.

Now, if were up to me to make the rules, I would be very tolerant of unpopular opinions, because I am as close as one can get to a free speech absolutist. I would make my company policy clear that individual views do not necessarily represent the view of the company.

That being said, I would not long tolerate a bigot who made my employees uncomfortable.

RedStateExile said...

We may find later that he told them off or something, this can't be the whole story,

This is very true.

But, I guess by the same token I could be fired for insubordination if I refused to remove my pro-gay stickers from my car. What if they did make someone uncomfortable?

"W '04" stickers make me uncomfortable too, but it shouldn't be enough to get someone fired.

If the message is threatening or they've put the message on a company car, then yes, they deserve to be fired.

Unfortunately, I do hire others within my position. Should I be fired for having a pro-gay sticker on my car because someone might think it has influenced my decision not to hire them? I hope not. I've hired plenty of Christians and straight people. I haven't used my position to hurt another.

Maybe Padilla did and maybe he made terrible comments that were unfitting for an HR person.

Maybe...but we'll probably never know because we weren't there. It just makes me nervous to see people fired for an opinion (IF that's all it was) because that could very well be me.

Stuffed Animal said...


I hate to change your topic, but PLEASE take a look at that October 20, 2006 "Favorite Ex-Gay" page again on I don't suggest that you contribute to the discussion; in fact, I'd advise you not to. But just look at what direction the conversation has gone in! I find it absolutely appalling. The blogmasters at obviously have no concept of how damaging anti-Gay brainwashing is. At least, that's what I'd prefer to believe. I'd rather not believe the worst about them. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

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Public Agenda is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group devoted to public opinion and public policy. For more information, go to