Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is receiving criticism nationally and locally for his decision last week to fire a Metro Board member who said in a public forum that he thinks homosexuals are “persons of sexual deviancy.”
“Mr. Ehrlich is using his power as governor to declare that a tenet of the Catholic faith is a form of bigotry. That’s a bigoted act on Mr. Ehrlich’s part,” said Robert Knight, director of the Culture and Family Institute of Concerned Women for America, a national Christian group based in the District.
“Shame on Governor Ehrlich for capitulating to this kind of pressure and dismissing a good man who was doing a good job,” Mr. Knight said.
Chris Core, a conservative talk-show host on WMAL-AM (630), and the American Family Association, based in Tupelo, Miss., have started e-mail petition drives asking Mr. Ehrlich to reinstate Robert J. Smith, a Gaithersburg architect and Republican activist.
In addition, the Archdiocese of Washington has expressed displeasure over Mr. Ehrlich’s decision.
“It would be unfortunate if it was [Mr. Smith] trying to express his faith teachings in a context also unrelated in his position on the Metro Board that resulted in him being dismissed from the board,” archdiocese spokeswoman Susan Gibbs said.
Mr. Ehrlich has declined to explain why he fired Mr. Smith last Thursday. Hours earlier, a fellow board member — D.C. Council member Jim Graham, a Ward 1 Democrat who is openly homosexual — had demanded that Mr. Smith apologize, resign or be fired.
“There’s nothing more to say,” Ehrlich spokesman Henry Fawell said this week.
Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican seeking re-election in a heavily Democratic state, last week called Mr. Smith’s comments on a Montgomery County public access cable TV program “highly inappropriate, insensitive and unacceptable.”
“They are in direct conflict to my administration’s commitment to inclusiveness, tolerance and opportunity,” the governor said.
Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, who is Catholic and running for the U.S. Senate, declined to comment yesterday. The Republican Senate candidate has supported a constitutional ban on same-sex “marriage.”
Delegate Don Dwyer Jr., Anne Arundel County Republican, said Mr. Smith’s firing was unjust and “intolerant of the moral values of many Marylanders.”
“I think it’s unfortunate that the governor has caved in to the homosexual lobby on this issue,” said Mr. Dwyer, who led the unsuccessful effort to put the same-sex “marriage” ban on the ballot.
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, a Christian lobbying group, called the firing an “egregious step of injustice” and said Mr. Smith’s civil rights have been violated.
“This, unfortunately, is a foretaste of things to come,” Mr. Perkins said. “The government cannot promote and condone behavior such as homosexuality without having to clamp down and suppress those who oppose it.”View Entire Story
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