UK Man Demoted For Marriage Comment On Facebook Wins Suit

A British man who was demoted in his job after posting a comment about gay marriage has won a breach-of-contract suit against his employer.

Adrian Smith of Bolton was previously relieved of his managerial duties at the Trafford Housing Trust and had his salary cut 40% after he posted that a same-sex wedding held in a church was  “equality too far,” next to a link to a news story with the headline, “Gay church ‘marriage’ set to get the go-ahead.”

“Mr Smith was taken to task for doing nothing wrong, suspended and subjected to a disciplinary procedure which wrongly found him guilty of gross misconduct, and then demoted to a non-managerial post with an eventual 40% reduction in salary,” cited a High Court judge. “The breach of contract which the Trust thereby committed was serious and repudiatory.”

Though he won his case, the payout Smith received was limited to £100 (about $160) because of “legal technicalities,” according to the BBC.

Smith, 55, released a statement: “Something has poisoned the atmosphere in Britain, where an honest man like me can be punished for making perfectly polite remarks about the importance of marriage. I have won today. But what will tomorrow bring? I am fearful that, if marriage is redefined, there will be more cases like mine – and if the law of marriage changes people like me may not win in court.”

He also asked if Prime Minister David Cameron wanted a society in which “people who believe in traditional marriage, are treated as outcasts?”

Foes of marriage equality will point to cases like this as a sign of how their liberties will be taken away if same-sex marriage is legalized in the US. It’s a dodge, of course—England doesn’t have marriage equality yet and Smith was penalized. But this is a case where someone went too far in trying to do the right thing.

There are situations where a comment on social media can justly affect someone’s job, but this wasn’t one of them. The Trust has a policy that prohibiting comments of a political or religious nature “that might upset coworkers.” With that kind of ridiculously broad parameter even “Liking” a candidate could get you in hot water.