INDIANAPOLIS–Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita is leading a 16-state coalition defending the right of Roncalli High School to uphold church teachings on same-sex marriage in both its hiring and firing decisions.
On Tuesday, Rokita filed an amicus brief in support of Roncalli and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Roncalli is a Catholic High School in Indianapolis.
“Regardless of one’s personal views on same-sex marriage, the First Amendment clearly permits churches and faith-based organizations to require ministerial staff to support their institutional beliefs,” said Rokita.
Lynn Starkey, a former guidance counselor in a same-sex marriage, filed a lawsuit against Roncalli and the Archdiocese after Roncalli decided to fire Starkey. In August, a federal district court ruled in Roncalli’s favor. Starkey filed an appeal in the 7th U.S. Circuit of Appeals.
Starkey was one of two gay, married guidance counselors fired from Roncalli. Her co-director of guidance, Shelly Fitzgerald, was suspended at the start of the 2018-19 school year and later fired. Starkey continued working but claimed in her lawsuit that she was subjected to discrimination, a hostile work environment, and retaliation. She was subsequently fired.
Fitzgerald has filed a lawsuit that is still pending in federal court.
In Rokita’s amicus briefs, he tells the court there is a “clear pattern of judicial precedent affirming the autonomy of religious institutions in making employment decisions regarding their ministers, including staff members at religious schools.”
The other states in the coalition are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and West Virginia.