- The Washington Times - Friday, September 27, 2019

The Department of Justice is defending a Catholic archdiocese in Indianapolis that told a high school to fire a gay teacher.

In an 18-page “statement of interest” in the court case, the Department of Justice wrote that plaintiff Joshua Payne-Elliott may have been “an excellent teacher,” but the First Amendment shields the Indianapolis Archdiocese from claims of discrimination leveled by Mr. Payne-Elliott.

The Justice Department lawyers quoted from the Obergefell v. Hayes, the 2015 Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage nationwide, saying that while same-sex couples can marry, “the court took care to ‘emphasize that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.’”

Cathedral High School, a Roman Catholic school in Indianapolis, terminated Mr. Payne-Elliott’s contract this year after receiving a decree from Archbishop Charles Thompson to disassociate with the diocese or fire the teacher.

Mr. Payne-Elliott’s husband, Layton, also teaches for a Catholic high school, an Indianapolis Jesuit high school called Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory that refused to fire him. The archdiocese cut ties with Brebeuf, which appealed the decision to a Vatican court.

• Christopher Vondracek can be reached at cvondracek@washingtontimes.com.

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