A manager at a Massachusetts retail store claims he was unjustly fired after he told a colleague he thought her impending marriage to another woman was wrong.
Peter Vadala, 24, told FoxNews.com he was terminated in August from his position as second deputy manager at a Brookstone store at Boston’s Logan Airport after a conversation he had with a manager from another Brookstone store who was visiting the location.
Vadala claims the woman, whom he declined to identify, mentioned four times that she had married her partner. He said he then left the store briefly to visit the airport’s chapel before returning.
“I found it offensive that she repeatedly brought it up,” Vadala said. “By the fourth time she mentioned it, I felt God wanted me to express how I felt about the matter, so I did. But my tone was downright apologetic. I said, ‘Regarding your homosexuality, I think that’s bad stuff.'”
The woman, according to Vadala, then said, “Human resources, buddy — keep your opinions to yourself,” before exiting the store.
Two days later, Vadala, who had been employed for just a matter of weeks, received a termination letter citing the company’s zero-tolerance policy regarding “harassment” and “inappropriate and unprofessional” comments.
“In the state of Massachusetts, same-sex marriage is legal and there will be people with whom you work with who have fiancées or spouses who are the same gender,” the Aug. 12 letter read. “… While you are entitled to your own beliefs, imposing them upon others in the workplace is not acceptable and in this case, by telling a colleague that she is deviant and immoral, constitutes discrimination and harassment.”
Vadala disputes using the words “deviant” and “immoral” during conversations with human resources employees on the matter.
“I did say I regard that lifestyle as deviant, as in deviating from the norm, but I never, ever said to that to the [manager],” he said. “In general, I believe people don’t want to hear about controversial issues like that in the workplace. They shouldn’t have to.”
Vadala, who has not hired a lawyer, said he is considering filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
In a statement issued to FoxNews.com, Brookstone President/CEO Ron Boire said a “thorough and fair investigation” had been completed in the matter.
“We do not comment on any specific personnel issues,” the statement read. “However I will say that Brookstone is an equal opportunity employer, meaning that we maintain a healthy, safe and productive work environment free from discrimination or harassment based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin, physical or mental disability, or other factors that are unrelated to the Company’s legitimate business interests.
“We are proud of our diverse workforce of varying cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds.”
Asked why he felt the need to comment on the woman’s personal life, Vadala, who has since left the Boston area, said he felt compelled to do so.
“I see, like all real Christians, homosexuals as people who, like me, are sinners and need to be told the truth in a loving way,” he said. “In this situation, I took issue with the behavior. I think it’s lunacy to call that type of behavior marriage in any kind of form. I had to express that I’m intolerant of that behavior. It’s a love-the-sinner, hate-the-sin kind of deal.”
Vadala said he felt “intentionally goaded” by the manager to comment on her relationship.
“She knew how I felt about homosexuality,” he said. “When you talk to someone about something like that, you want their support. She was kind of looking into my eyes for that social cue for me to say, ‘I’m happy for you.’ But I really couldn’t feel happy for her.”
Thanks to JThundley for this story.
One of the UK’s oldest Christian denominations – the Quakers – looks set to extend marriage services to same-sex couples at their yearly meeting later.
The society has already held religious blessings for same-sex couples who have had a civil partnership ceremony.
But agreeing to perform gay marriages, which are currently not allowed under civil law, could bring the Quakers into conflict with the government.
The issue of active homosexuality has bitterly divided Churches.
But the BBC’s religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott said the Quakers had been more prepared than other groups to reinterpret the Bible in the light of contemporary life.
The Quakers – also known as The Religious Society of Friends – are likely to reach consensus on the issue of gay marriage without a vote at their annual gathering in York on Friday.
They will also formally ask the government to change the law to allow gay people to marry.
Quaker registrars, like rabbis and Church of England priests, have the authority to marry heterosexual couples on behalf of the state.
But many British Quakers feel it is wrong to exclude a religious commitment from civil partnerships and want the right to marriage extended to same-sex couples too.
The Quakers has welcomed same-sex unions for more than two decades, allowing local groups to celebrate same-sex commitments through special acts of worship.
But within Britain’s Christian community more widely, the issue of homosexuality has caused major confrontations.
Most recently, the Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali, told a newspaper that homosexuals should “repent and be changed”.
Afghan women protesting against a new law that severely undermines women’s rights were pelted with stones in the country’s capital Wednesday, say reports.
About 300 mostly young women gathered in Kabul to show their opposition to a recently passed law that forbids women from refusing to have sex with their husbands and requires them to get a male relative’s permission to leave the house.
The demonstration, organized by women’s rights activists in the country, occurred in front of a Shia mosque recently built by a cleric who helped craft the law. Critics of the law say it effectively legalizes rape within marriage and is a return to Taliban-style rule.
About 1,000 people opposed to the protest surrounded the women and threw gravel and small stones as police struggled to hold them back. The group of counter-protesters included both men and women.
Some shouted “Death to the slaves of the Christians.”
“You are a dog. You are not a Shia woman,” one man shouted to a young woman in a headscarf holding aloft a banner that said, “We don’t want Taliban law.”
There were no reports of injuries.
Sima Ghani, a women’s rights activist, said everyone at the protest is united against the law.
“No matter what religion we belong to, what sect we follow, we all stand against this law and want a reform of the law,” she said.
Jeremy Starkey, a reporter with The Independent newspaper who was at the demonstration, said he saw men pelt the women with stones.
“I saw the men surging forward on a number of occasions,” he said.
“Female afghan police officers joined hands to form a human chain around the women to try to protect them.”
The law, which applies only to the minority Shia community, received widespread international condemnation.
The government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said the law will be reviewed and won’t be implemented in its current form.
Canada’s foreign affairs minister, Lawrence Cannon, said earlier this month Afghan officials had assured him they would delete “contentious clauses” from the legislation.
The Afghan constitution guarantees equal rights for women, but also allows the Shia to have separate family law based on religious tradition.
In a city launched by shotgun weddings and quickie divorces, and which offers the chance to be wed by faux Liberaces, King Tuts and Grim Reapers, there remains at least one nuptial taboo: You can’t be married by an atheist.
Michael Jacobson, a 64-year-old retiree who calls himself a lifelong atheist, tried this year to get a license to perform weddings. Clark County rejected his application because he had no ties to a congregation, as state law requires.So Jacobson and attorneys from two national secular groups — the American Humanist Assn. and the Center for Inquiry — are trying to change things. If they can’t persuade the state Legislature to rework the law, they plan to sue.
Jacobson, who spends most afternoons reading online or dining at a nearby buffet, is an admittedly reluctant plaintiff. But he’s willing to fight on principle, recalling one time he couldn’t: In the 1960s, the Army demanded that his dog tags note his religion. He reluctantly chose Judaism, which reflected his ancestry if not his beliefs.
“One of the things I like to do is stand up and say I’m a nonbeliever, so you know you’re not alone,” he said recently.
For years Mel Lipman, a friend of Jacobson’s and president of the American Humanist Assn., had presided over nonreligious weddings in Las Vegas. But he belonged to the Humanist Society, a secular branch of the Humanist Assn., whose tax status as a religious group satisfied the clerk’s requirements.
When Lipman and his wife moved to Florida this spring, Jacobson — a balding man with a thin, white mustache and a trace of his native Philadelphia in his voice — decided to become the local atheist celebrant.
“But I’m not going to do it by saying I belong to a religious organization,” he said. “That’s a sham, because atheists are not religious.”
Jacobson filled out an application to perform marriages, but sidestepped the questions on religion. County Clerk Shirley Parraguirre said she had little choice but to reject it.
As Nevada law requires, all of the county’s 2,500 or so licensed officiants are connected to a congregation — though some are as small as two people, Parraguirre said. (Judges and commissioners of civil marriages can also lead ceremonies.)
Some of the state’s regulations hark back to the 1960s, when ministers were dumping their flocks to become wealthy “Marrying Sams,” according to the book “Las Vegas: An Unconventional History.” One would-be officiant apparently hoped to marry enough people to finance his divorce.
Lawmakers, trying to ferret out the profit-hungry, said weddings must be among a minister’s “incidental” duties. Drive past the string of neon-lighted downtown chapels, and you’ll see that didn’t quite pan out.
Organizers hope to get 1 million Catholics, Mormons, Jews, Muslims, evangelical Christians, Sikhs and Hindus to post lawn signs supporting Prop. 8 in unison next month.
Early on a late September morning, if all goes according to plan, 1 million Mormons, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, evangelical Christians, Sikhs and Hindus will open their doors, march down their front walks and plant “Yes on Proposition 8” signs in their yards to show they support repealing same-sex marriage in California.
It is a bold idea, one that may be difficult to pull off. But whether or not 1 million lawn signs are planted in unison, the plan underscores what some observers say is one of the most ambitious interfaith political organizing efforts ever attempted in the state. Moreover, political analysts say, the alliances across religious boundaries could herald new ways of building coalitions around political issues in California.
“Pan-religious, faith-based political action strategies . . . I think we are going to see a lot more of [this] in the future,” said Gaston Espinosa, a professor of religious studies at Claremont McKenna College.
The greatest involvement in the campaign has come from Mormons, Catholics and evangelical Christians, who say they are working together much more closely than they did eight years ago when a similar measure, Proposition 22, was on the ballot.
Mark Jansson, a Mormon who is a member of the Protect Marriage Coalition, said members of his group are also reaching out to Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus.
Organizers say the groups turned to each other because of the California Supreme Court’s ruling in May allowing same-sex marriages to be performed in the state. Thousands of gay couples have wed in the state since June 17, the first day same-sex marriages became legal.
“This is a rising up over a 5,000-year-old institution that is being hammered right now,” said Jim Garlow, pastor of Skyline Church, an evangelical congregation in La Mesa. Garlow said that, while he supported Proposition 22, he was not nearly as involved as this time around, when he has helped organize 3,400-person conference calls across denominations to coordinate campaign support for the proposed constitutional amendment.
“What binds us together is one common obsession: . . . marriage,” Garlow said.
He added that many people of faith, regardless of their religion, believe that “if Proposition 8 fails, there is an inevitable loss of religious freedom.”
Other religious leaders vehemently disagree with Garlow and are working just as furiously to defeat Proposition 8. But their efforts have not been as carefully orchestrated as those of the initiative’s religious supporters.