The city of Austin, Texas, fired a volunteer fire chaplain because he criticized the absurd idea that men should compete with women in physical sports on his personal blog. Andrew K. Fox, who volunteered for eight years, refused to apologize or recant his statements.
Fox filed a lawsuit against the city on First Amendment grounds. He’s represented by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). From the complaint:
“For eight years, Dr. Fox walked side-by-side with first responders and their families, providing a listening ear and source of prayer as they encountered deaths, suicides, and other tragedies. For eight years, Dr. Fox provided all firefighters with consistent care and equal treatment no matter who they were, including those in the LGBT community. For eight years, Dr. Fox treated everyone he encountered with dignity and respect as he ministered to others in accordance with his religious beliefs and fire department policy. And he did this all voluntarily—without pay—out of love for the men and women who sacrificially serve their community.”
This case sounds similar to the high-profile case of Kelvin Cochran, a former fire chief in Atlanta. Cochran self-published a book about marriage in which he criticized homosexuality and other sins. He said he gave copies of his book to co-workers who asked for them. It used to be city policy for employees to seek the city’s permission to publish books. Cochran said he obtained the necessary permission. The mayor at the time, Kasim Reed, called his actions insubordinate and suspended him for 30 days. Reed eventually fired him.
The mayor denied that he fired Cochran for his book’s content. Cochran filed a lawsuit against the city. He contended that the policy was unconstitutional. A federal court agreed with him and struck it down but upheld his suspension. ADF also represented Cochran.
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