The dispute began in January 2003, when the two Oakland employees created a subgroup at their workplace called the "Good News Employee Association." It was partly in response to a group of homosexual employees having formed their own group 10 months before and being given access to the city e-mail system. One e-mail, dated Oct. 11, 2002, invited city employees to participate in "National Coming-Out Day."
When several employees asked whether such a posting was legitimate city business, they got an e-mail from City Council member Danny Wan, reminding them that a "celebration of the gay/lesbian culture and movement" was part of the city's role to "celebrate diversity."
In response, the Good News employees posted an introductory flier on the employee bulletin board Jan. 3.
It said: "Preserve Our Workplace With Integrity: Good News Employee Association is a forum for people of faith to express their views on the contemporary issues of the day." It said it opposed "all views which seek to redefine the natural family and marriage," which it defined as "a union of a man and a woman, according to California state law."
Anyone who wanted to help preserve "integrity in the workplace" was invited to contact the two employees: Regina Rederford and Robin Christy.
A lesbian co-worker, Judith Jennings, spotted the flier and complained to the city attorney's office that it made her feel "targeted" and "excluded," according to a deposition. The flier was removed by a supervisor because it violated the city's anti-discrimination rules.
Jun 11, 2007
Vile, hateful words
Like "natural family," "marriage" and "union of a man and a woman" may be considered hate speech in government workplaces, according to a suit brought before the US Spreme Court.