...a critical First Amendment case is being argued before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The case deals squarely with the issue of whether Christians have a right to use neutral language in the workplace to talk about same-sex marriage and other issues at the forefront of national debate. Attorneys Scott Lively and Richard D. Ackerman will be arguing the case before the Ninth Circuit on behalf of an African- American Christian woman who was threatened with termination at her job with the City of Oakland. The City of Oakland claims that references to the "natural family, marriage and family values" constitute hate speech which is scary to city workers.
According to the lawsuit, gay and lesbian city workers had already been using the city's e-mail, bulletin board, and written communications systems for promoting their views to other workers, including the plaintiffs.
Plaintiffs, Regina Rederford and Robin Christy posted the flier in response to an e-mail to city employees announcing formation of a gay and lesbian employee association. The two responded with a promotion of their own -- the start of an informal group that respects "the natural family, marriage and family values."
But supervisors Robert Bobb, then city manager, and Joyce Hicks, then deputy director of the Community and Economic Development Agency, ordered removal of the flier, stating it contained "statements of a homophobic nature" and promoted "sexual- orientation-based harassment," even though it made no absolutely no mention of homosexuality.
A July 2003 lawsuit by Rederford and Christy claimed the city's anti-discrimination policy "promotes homosexuality" and "openly denounces Christian values."
Messrs. Lively and Ackerman said the case is significant, because a decision against the employees could silence debate about homosexuality and related issues in the entire Western United States since the Ninth Circuit controls a large region of the United States...