The Indiana Supreme Court has ruled in favour of Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis and their decision to fire a teacher for being in a same-sex marriage.
The former Catholic high school teacher, Joshua Payne-Elliot had sued the school and argued that the Archdiocese leaders had wrongfully pressured the school to dismiss him back in 2019. Payne-Elliot had taught world language and social studies at the school for 13 years.
The reason for his firing was due to a mandate that all Catholic schools under the Archdiocese’s purview enforce a morality clause that barred employees from entering into same-sex marriages.
Archdiocese Protected Under First Amendment
The state’s Supreme Court said that religious institutions like the school are protected under the First Amendment and have the right to decide matters of church governance for themselves.
“The archdiocese’s decision whether a school maintains its Catholic identity is an internal matter that concerns both church policy and administration,” the decision read.
“Religious freedom protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution encompasses the right of religious institutions to decide for themselves, free from state interference, matters of church government.”
“This principle, known as the church-autonomy doctrine … applies in this case and requires its dismissal.”
The Archdiocese of Indianapolis praised the court’s decision claiming that it ensures the protection of the “Archdiocese of Indianapolis’ right to ensure students and families receive an authentic Catholic education.”
Catholic School Already Aware of Same-sex Marriage
Payne-Elliot had argued that the Catholic high school had renewed his annual contract three times whilst aware of his relationship until the archdiocese became aware and forced his dismissal.
“We would also like the citizens of Indiana to know that millions of taxpayer dollars are being redirected each year from public schools (where teachers have enforceable contract rights and rights to be free from discrimination) to private schools which target LGBTQ employees,” Payne-Elliot said.
“We fear for the well-being of LGBTQ students and faculty in Catholic schools.”
Payne-Elliot’s attorney, Kathleen DeLaney has stated that they were examining their options on the possibility of a new lawsuit with different arguments.