Gay Man Fired By Catholic Diocese Files Federal Lawsuit

John Murphy, left, who served as executive director of the Saint Francis Home, and his husband, Jerry Carter, pose in their home in Richmond, Va. Photo by Steve Helber, AP.
John Murphy, left, who served as executive director of the St. Francis Home, and his husband, Jerry Carter, pose in their home in Richmond, Va. Photo by Steve Helber, AP.

A man who was allegedly fired from a retirement home owned by the Catholic Diocese of Richmond has filed a federal lawsuit claiming discrimination.

John M. Murphy was fired in April 2015, just eight days into his job as executive director of the St. Francis Home, according to court papers filed this month.

Related: Priest Fired For Being Gay Says Church Is Making Lives Of Gay Catholics “Hell”

He says two diocese officials visited his office, Chief Financial Officer Michael McGee and Human Resources Officer Dorothy Mahanes, who told him they had learned he was gay. When Murphy confirmed this he was fired, he says.

According to the lawsuit, McGee then told him “same-sex marriage is antithetical to Roman Catholic church doctrine and this makes you unfit and ineligible to be executive director of St. Francis Home. We are here to advise you that your employment is terminated effective today,” Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

A spokeswoman for St. Francis Home said in October that “as a Catholic organization, we expect the employees of the diocese and its ministries to uphold and embody the consistent values and truths of the Catholic faith, including those preserving the sanctity of marriage.”

Murphy is married to his partner of 30 years, Jerry Carter.

Murphy also says his sexual orientation was never brought up during the month long interview process, but that it did come up on March 18, 2015, during a conversation about an upcoming fundraiser with the president of the board of directors, Tina Neal.

Related: Orgy Loving Priest Kept Secret Grindr Account

The lawsuit claims Neal told him that “staff and spouses were invited to attend and that (he) was welcome to bring his wife.”

Murphy says he told her he had a husband, not a wife.

“Since this was the first time this issue ever came up, (Murphy) asked Ms. Neal if his same-sex marriage status was an issue,” according to the lawsuit. “She shrugged and said it was not a problem and would not be an issue, stating: ‘This is 2015.’”

According to the lawsuit, Bishop Francis Xavier DiLorenzo met with the board the day before firing Murphy, insisting they fire him “on the grounds of same-sex marriage.” They refused, and some discussed quitting, the lawsuit states.

Murphy says he has suffered mental and emotional distress and has not been able to find work and is asking for about $750,000 plus attorney fees.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order on January 11, 2014 prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the public sector. There are no state or federal laws against this type of discrimination in the private sector, however.

Related: Ireland’s Oldest Seminary Rocked By Widespread Grindr Use Among Priests

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would create federal protections for private sector employees of any company with at least 15 employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, but has not passed despite being introduced into congress every year since 1994. Similar legislation has been introduced with passage since 1974.

Even if ENDA were to pass, it contains a religious exemption that would likely protect religiously owned institutions such as St. Francis Home in these types of cases.

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  • Xzamilio

    Ooooh, a Catholic organization being homophobic. Meanwhile, a bear is shitting in the woods and water is still wet. So nothing different here. I don’t have much pity for LGBT individuals in religions that are vehemently homophobic or have dogmatic teachings that regard them as less than others. You can ignore it and cherry pick all you want, but it’s still there and still awful and still being used to justify horrible things.

    Oh, and thank you, Catholic church, for helping in the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa.

  • Kangol

    According to the lawsuit, Bishop Francis Xavier DiLorenzo met with the board the day before firing Murphy, insisting they fire him “on the grounds of same-sex marriage.” They refused, and some discussed quitting, the lawsuit states.

    This is the key paragraph. It wasn’t the lay Roman Catholic people who wanted to discriminate, but this hom0phobic bishop. The ordained religious figure is the one who forced this gay man out of his job. It correlates with the fact that heavily Catholic states in the US (Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, etc.) were among the first to have same-sex marriage, but the Catholic hierarchy, which is full of closeted queens, keeps fighting tooth and nail against LGBTQ equality. Disgusting.

  • Southstguy

    Dear gays, stop pretending the church cares about you at all

  • Alistair Wiseman


    Said the religious bigot.

    My church cares about me. It depends on what church you attend and what the religious and church doctrine(s) encompass. Houses of worship are generally not secretive about their doctrine, message and expectations from their congregations.

  • Xzamilio

    @Alistair Wiseman: Exactly… you pick the flavor you like the most and that agrees with you and swear that version is the truth. I wish more people were as honest about their buffet approach to their religion like you are.

  • MacAdvisor

    This lawsuit is frivolous and will not succeed. The Supreme Court made very clear in its ruling in Boy Scouts of America et al. v. Dale, 530 U.S. 640 (2000), organizations with an associative purpose my discriminate against individuals even in suspect classifications. Thus, the KKK can legal exclude Black members. The LA County Democratic party can discriminate against Republicans. The Catholic Church has an associative purpose and that includes their belief, however unfounded, that homosexual practices are an intrinsic evil. The fellow should simply have never, ever taken a job there or he should have hidden the fact he was gay. In any case, however, unfair this may seem, the Church had ever right to fire him and his lawsuit is a waste of time, likely to be dismissed at the demurrer stage.

    Also, Queerty, Richmond, California? Richmond, Virginia? Remember the “where” in the ol’ journalism truism of “who, what, where, when, why, and how.” Details, baby, details.

  • Xzamilio

    And no one’s brought up Islam as a false equivalence… I guess you can mention the practices of one religion’s organization without bringing up the practices of an other religion’s organization.

  • GayEGO

    This is religious freedom for the Catholic church, however, its members know they must hide and sneak their gayness as the phony leadership pretends they are upholding the church doctrines by being hateful and bigoted.

  • GayEGO

    @Alistair Wiseman: Some churches do care which is good, but the Catholic church is ruled by the Vatican who is more interested in money which is why they created celibacy, to save money by not having to support married priests’ families. You may have seen the movie “Spotlight” which outed several Catholic priests and their pedophilia actions against boys back in the 1970s in Boston.

  • SFHandyman

    Tip: Don’t work for the enemy.

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