February 08, 2018
Gayle Myrick served the state of North Carolina for five years. And she would have served more, if she hadn't been fired for being a Christian.
Like a lot of magistrates in 2015, Gayle knew the minute the Supreme Court's redefined marriage that her world would change forever. She decided that although she couldn't, in good conscience, perform the same-sex ceremonies -- she didn't want to stand in the way of people getting lawfully married. So, her supervisor came up with a compromise: the office would change Gayle's schedule so that she would never have to officiate a ceremony. It was the perfect solution.
Or so they thought. Someone higher in the chain of command refused to approve the change, arguing that Gayle's religious beliefs shouldn't affect her job. The next day, she was forced to leave. With the help of the Becket Fund, she filed a workplace discrimination complaint. And, after a long three years of fighting for a job she loved -- won. This week, months after a court agreed that North Carolina was "obligated" to provide an accommodation, Union County finally settled -- awarding Gayle $300,000, including more than $122,000 in back pay.
"I have always," she said in a statement, "wanted to find a way to protect everyone's dignity. The solution in my case would allow any couple to get lawfully married without facing rejection or delay, and magistrates with religious beliefs like me could step aside and still keep our jobs." The problem isn't that there isn't a reasonable compromise. The problem is that when the courts trashed marriage, liberals tried to chuck the First Amendment along with it. "This case is about protecting the dignity of everyone in our diverse society," Becket counsel Stephanie Barclay told The Daily Signal. "Faith and sexual orientation are deeply important to the identity of many people, and these two things don't have to be at odds with each other."
When county clerks, judges, and magistrates like Gayle took their oath of office, they understood that they'd be required to perform weddings. But it was before Obergefell. They didn't take that oath with the understanding that they'd be required to marry same-sex couples. Three years later, it's time to practice the coexistence liberals preached. "Our civil rights laws help us create a diverse society where people can live, work, and break bread together despite our differences," Barclay explained. Let's hope more courts recognize what this one already has: no one -- not a baker, doctor, or public servant -- should have to check their beliefs at the workplace door.
Watch Gayle's story here.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.