- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 21, 2000

Once a homosexual, the Rev. Timothy Jerome Wilkins of Raleigh, N.C., had long since left the lifestyle, married and taken a job at his hometown newspaper when he founded a ministry, "Created for the Opposite Sex."
He and CROSS were even featured on the front page of the Raleigh News & Observer on Aug. 4, 1997. The story told how Mr. Wilkins, now 45, leads a ministry to reorient homosexuals to heterosexual lifestyles.
At the time, he had worked 14 months as a direct-sales supervisor at the News & Observer. Before that, he had been a Southern Baptist pastor.
He and the newspaper diverge in their accounts of what happened next.
He says he was fired three weeks after the front-page story ran because his superiors were hostile toward his conservative Christian beliefs. The newspaper claims in court records that Mr. Wilkins was fired for "a total lack of respect for management, insubordination and failure to take responsibility."
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will represent Mr. Wilkins in federal court in a Dec. 11 trial in Wilmington, N.C.
The EEOC claims in its suit the News & Observer discriminated against Mr. Wilkins by not promoting him and discharging him because of religious beliefs.
In addition, Mr. Wilkins' personal attorney filed a religious discrimination suit on his behalf against the newspaper in state court.
The trial, which has been three years in the making, dates back to just after Mr. Wilkins proposed a motion to the Southern Baptist Convention calling for research and programs to reorient homosexuals. The convention passed the motion that June at the annual convention meeting in Dallas.
Because of his role at the meeting, the News & Observer's religion reporter featured Mr. Wilkins on the front page two months later. But the newspaper says his job was already in question at the time. Eddie Jackson, the paper's human-resources director, says the former employee was fired for "subpar" performance.
"We never, ever discussed his beliefs or his ministerial background," the newspaper quoted Mr. Jackson as saying May 15, 1998. "We talked to him about his performance."
But the former employee claims he also just had received a "commendable" overall job rating from the paper and had been rated "excellent" in all 11 job skills assessment categories. There was no written or oral reprimand before the day of his firing, he says.
Mr. Wilkins seeks an apology from the paper, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.
Originally, Mr. Wilkins sought reinstatement at the newspaper but has since reconsidered.
"Even when we win this case, and I believe that we will, will it be prudent to step back into a company that did this?" he said. "I would say at this point that that's not a definite."
Ken Irvin, a Family Research Council research assistant, says in a 32-page report that more and more people are losing their jobs or facing workplace hostility for opposing homosexuality.
These types of cases are increasing as more cities, states and companies implement nondiscrimination policies running counter to Christian standards, Mr. Irvin told Baptist Press.
A case in point is San Francisco, where a domestic partners ordinance requires any company doing business with it to provide its employees with marital benefits to unmarried heterosexual and homosexual partners. The American Center for Law and Justice is suing the city on behalf of S.D. Myers, Inc., an Ohio-based contractor whose bid for a $143,000 contract maintaining the city's electric transformers was turned down on these grounds.
The suit says the city should not impose its view of family on corporations.

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