Proponents of LGBT rights often focus on the fact that one can be fired without recourse in many states if you are LGBT. Purcell Marian High School — a Catholic school in Cincinnati — took this a step further by firing Dean of Student Life Mike Moroski for his blog post simply stating his support for gay marriage. This firing says much about the way that LGBT equality progresses around the country, and that LGBT activists have a long way to go to reach inclusivity in many religions.
The blog post in question was innocuous, but the Cincinnati Archdiocese’s reaction was swift. Moroski discussed the importance of diversity of thought, and his support of gay marriage, proclaiming that “if the love you share with someone else makes you the best version of yourself possible and you go out there in the world and share that love with others — have at it and be well.” Moroski, who is straight and married, was reprimanded, and, when unwilling to take the blog post down or post an apology, he was let go. On February 11, the archdiocese released a letter that condemned Moroski for having “clearly violated school policy and his employment contract.” Moroski seems to be recovering from the situation: though he misses his students, he has plans to run for city council in 2017. More revealing about this situation is just how far LGBT rights, which have seemed to making great progress in the last few months with Barack Obama’s mention of LGBT rights in his State of the Union and inauguration speeches, have to go in some spheres of the nation.
Religious perspectives on LGBT rights are changing, but Moroski’s dismissal simply for supporting gay marriage demonstrates how difficult it can be for LGBT people of faith to thrive in more conservative religious climates. While there are certainly religious people who support LGBT equality like Moroski (and religious LGBT persons in general), the experience of growing up in a religious family or community that is not supportive of LGBT people remains traumatizing.
The region of Moroski’s school also seems important in assessing the ways that LGBT people face discrimination based on their identity: in the Midwest, separate from the urban locales where LGBT people have made so much progress, LGBT equality still exists, but people face intense homophobia and discrimination, and lawmakers are far more willing to prioritize the “religious freedom” of business owners over the safety of LGBT employees and citizens.
Right now, LGBT people can be fired simply for being who they are without recourse, as most states do not have comprehensive employment nondiscrimination protections. Only a few days ago, a senior district court judge ruled against the archdiocese of Cincinnati for firing an employee who became pregnant via artificial insemination. We’ll soon see if Moroski’s case will end in similar legal recourse. Regardless, Moroski’s case indicates how far LGBT activists have to go, particularly working with religious communities and beyond urban, coastal region, to make LGBT equality and protection a reality around the country.