A federal judge's landmark ruling, just made public, flips the script on LGBT rights, discrimination, and the workplace.
Gayle Myrick was a magistrate in North Carolina for many years who was forced to resign because of her religious beliefs — until a judge just ruled forcing her to resign was, in fact, discrimination. When same-sex marriage became legal, Myrick didn’t want to stop any couple from getting married, but she also knew that her religious beliefs prevented her from performing a same-sex wedding ceremony. Since performing weddings was a small part of her work, Gayle tried to change her shift so she wasn’t working when marriage ceremonies were performed. However, the state government rejected this reasonable accommodation and forced Gayle to resign.
A federal judge ruled, in Myrick v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, that North Carolina violated civil rights laws when it forced a magistrate to resign because of her beliefs about marriage. Essentially, this was discrimination under civil rights laws and North Carolina was “obligated to provide an accommodation to Magistrate Myrick,” the ruling said. The state later acknowledged it treated Gayle unfairly, and the settlement agreement makes Gayle whole by paying her the salary and retirement benefits that were taken away. The state also passed a law making sure no magistrates would be targeted for their religious beliefs and no one would be denied a prompt marriage.
This ruling predates the Supreme Court decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a case that also addresses issues related to LGBT rights and religious liberty and shows significant progress when it comes to religious freedom. It shows that faith and LGBT rights don’t have to be at odds with each other; reasonable solutions can be reached which will protect the dignity of each person.
Nicole Russell is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is a journalist in Washington, D.C., who previously worked in Republican politics in Minnesota. She was the 2010 recipient of the American Spectator's Young Journalist Award.
If you would like to write an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, please read our guidelines on submissions here.