Court Rules Against University Official Who Wrote Column Critical of Gay Rights

A federal appeals court ruled against a woman who was suing the University of Toledo over them firing her because of an opinion column she wrote criticizing gay rights.

A three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that Crystal Dixon was rightfully fired by Toledo because of her positions being in contradiction with the university's mission. "In writing her op-ed column, Dixon not only spoke on policy issues, but also spoke on policy issues related directly to her position at the university," wrote the panel.

"… there is evidence establishing that she was a policymaker who engaged in speech on a policy issue related to her position. The government's interests thus outweigh Dixon's interests as a matter of law, and we affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment to the defendants on this basis."

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The Sixth Circuit reaffirmed a lower court decision against Dixon, who was represented by the American Freedom Law Center.

Robert J. Muise, co-founder and senior counsel for the AFLC, told The Christian Post that he considered the decision to be a "troubling" one.

"I think it's a very troubling [decision] and I think it erodes fundamental First Amendment freedoms, particularly for Christians who want to speak on controversial issues in public," said Muise.

In April 2008, Dixon wrote an opinion column for the Toledo Free Press in rebuttal to an earlier column comparing the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and the modern gay rights movement.

"As a Black woman who happens to be an alumnus of the University of Toledo's Graduate School, an employee and business owner, I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are 'civil rights victims'," wrote Dixon.

"I cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a Black woman. I am genetically and biologically a Black woman and very pleased to be so as my Creator intended."

Dixon, who was serving as interim associate vice president for human resources at Toledo, was fired after a hearing by the university over her views on the issue.

Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, president of the University of Toledo, would write a response to both Dixon and the column she was rebutting, stating Dixon's "comments do not accord with the values of the University of Toledo."

"The University of Toledo welcomes, supports and places value upon persons of every variety. Disability, race, age or sexual orientation are not included in any decision making process nor the evaluation of worth of any individual at this university," wrote Jacobs.

In comments provided to The Christian Post, Jacobs was "pleased to learn of the U.S. Court of Appeals' decision to affirm the district court's decision to grant summary judgment in favor of the University following a lawsuit filed by former employee Crystal Dixon."

"The University of Toledo is committed to providing a safe, welcoming environment for all students, faculty, staff, patients and visitors, regardless of race, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation or physical ability," said Jacobs.

Muise commented, "Here you have the government repudiating Ms. Crystal Dixon's personal religious convictions on a very controversial issue."

"Why does that not violate this so-called diversity principle? It's just one-way diversity, that's what it is … and in a university of [all] places. The marketplace of ideas?"

Muise told CP that he intended to file an appeal and have the suit tried en banc, or before the entire Sixth Circuit. Muise also mentioned a possible filing with the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

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