An Indiana court on Friday dismissed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, filed by a former Catholic school teacher fired for contracting a same-sex civil marriage.
Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel at Becket, which represents the archdiocese, said that the dismissal of the lawsuit was a “major victory” for religious liberty.
“If the First Amendment means anything, it means the government can’t punish the Catholic Church for asking Catholic educators to support Catholic teaching,” he said.
The lawsuit against the archdiocese was filed by Joshua Payne-Elliott, a former teacher at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis. In 2017, Payne-Elliott entered a same-sex civil marriage with another Catholic school teacher in the archdiocese, Layton Payne-Elliott.
According to Becket, the archdiocese for two years considered what action to take, before instructing both Cathedral and Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, where Layton Payne-Elliott taught, that their employment could not continue. The civil marriage had violated Church teaching, the archdiocese said.
Brebeuf refused the archbishop’s request, and the archdiocese in response revoked the school’s “Catholic” status. Cathedral High School, however, terminated Joshua Payne-Elliott’s contract in June 2019. After reaching a settlement with the school, he filed a lawsuit against the archdiocese in August 2019.
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