A special session of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is being held today at the Stanford University Law School where lawyers are arguing whether the words “natural family, marriage and family values” constitute “hate speech” that could intimidate city of Oakland workers.
The words were used by two city employees who wanted to launch a group of people who shared their interests and posted a notice on a city bulletin board after a series of notices from homosexual activists were delivered to them via the city’s e-mail system, bulletin boards and memo distribution system.
But Robert Bobb, then city manager, and Joyce Hicks, then deputy director of the Community and Economic Development Agency, ordered their notice removed, because it contained “statements of a homophobic nature” and promoted “sexual-orientation-based harassment.”
The women, Regina Rederford and Robin Christy, also were threatened with firing from their city jobs because of their posting, according to their lawsuit against the city, which alleges Oakland’s anti-discrimination policy “promotes homosexuality” and “openly denounces Christian values.”
Attorneys Scott Lively and Richard D. Ackerman are arguing on behalf of the women in the First Amendment case that Christians have equal rights at work to use neutral language to talk about same-sex marriage and other issues.
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker had ruled in 2005 that Oakland had a right to prevent the employees from posting a Good News Employee Association flier promoting traditional family values on the office bulletin board, even though homosexual city workers already had been using multiple communications systems in the city to promote their message to other workers, including the plaintiffs.
In response to the announcement about the formation of a “gay and lesbian” association, the two workers announced their own informal group that respects “the natural family, marriage and family values.”
Walker later ruled that the two did not have their First Amendment rights violated and that federal anti-discrimination protections afforded to gender, race and religion did not apply.
City Attorney John Russo has promised the city will fight “vigorously to defend the policies and practices” of the city.
Lively and Ackerman, of Ackerman, Cowles & Lindsley, said the case is significant because the 9th Circuit sets precedents for a large part of the western United States, and its decision could be used against millions of workers whose speech is subject to punishment by employers who denounce Judeo-Christian values in their agendas.
The posting said:
“Preserve Our Workplace with Integrity.
Good News Employee Associations is a forum for people of Faith to express their views on the contemporary issues of the day. With respect for the Natural Family, Marriage and Family values.
If you would like to be a part of preserving integrity in the Workplace call Regina Rederford @xxx-xxxx or Robin Christy @xxx-xxxx
Hicks ordered it taken down the same day it was posted. Then in a memo announcing a newly revised workplace anti-discrimination policy, Hicks said there had been incidents of workers “inappropriately posting materials.”
“This case has the potential to make a horrible judicial edict that suggests that the only thoughts and words allowed in a public workplace are those that support the homosexual agenda,” said Ackerman. “The city of Oakland has interpreted this district court’s ruling to mean that Christianity has no place in our society and should be subject to punishment. I want to believe that our Supreme Court will ultimately decide this case on the values and instructions set forth in motion by the nations Founders.”
Ackerman’s’ firm represents the women and said the Pro-Family Law Center and Abiding Truth Ministries have helped underwrite the thousands of dollars it has cost to fight the city’s aggressive censorship of the plaintiffs.
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