“My faith plays a role in every aspect of my life. My faith is not something I take off and leave at home when I walk out the door,” Marcia Walden said. Marcia paid a high price for her faith when she faced an impossible choice at work, either to affirm a homosexual relationship, or to lie about why she couldn’t.
As a counselor for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Marcia counseled people of all backgrounds and situations, including individuals identifying as homosexual. But this situation was different; a client asked Marcia for help strengthening and repairing her lesbian relationship, a relationship that conflicted with Marcia’s faith.
Marcia could see that this woman was hurting, and she wanted to do the right thing for her. Instead of pushing her religious beliefs onto the client, she followed counselor protocol and referred her to another colleague down the hall, explaining that due to her “personal values,” it wouldn’t be fair to her client to proceed with counseling.
Even though the client described the counseling from Marcia’s colleague as “exemplary,” she still filed a complaint against Marcia, claiming that she felt “judged.” Marcia’s supervisors did an investigation of her work, and insisted that when she referred homosexual clients in the future, she should tell them that the reason she referred them was because she didn’t have enough experience in relationship counseling, which wasn’t true.
When Marcia refused to lie about the real reason she would refer clients, she was fired.
Alliance Defending Freedom helped Marcia take legal action against her former employers for violating her freedom of religion and speech rights, but the district court and the court of appeals held that her employer had offered a “reasonable accommodation for her beliefs.”
Marcia did eventually find new employment, but no longer works as a counselor.
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