The Washington Post

Teacher’s suit against archdioces­e is revived


A lawsuit filed by a teacher who was fired from his job at a Catholic high school in Indianapol­is for being in a samesex marriage can proceed, a state appeals court ruled.

A panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled unanimousl­y Tuesday that a Marion County court erred in dismissing Joshua Payne-elliott’s lawsuit against the Archdioces­e of Indianapol­is. The ruling reverses that decision and sends the case back to the lower court, the Indianapol­is Star reported.

Payne-elliott had worked for 13 years as a world language and social studies teacher at Cathedral High School. He was fired in June 2019 after the archdioces­e mandated that all Catholic schools under its purview enforce a morality clause barring employees from entering into same-sex marriages.

Payne-elliott married Layton Payne-elliott, a teacher at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparator­y School, in 2017.

The couple has been at the center of a fight between their schools and the archdioces­e, which directed the schools to fire both men. Brebeuf did not comply with the directive, to which the archdioces­e responded by attempting to strip Brebeuf of its status as a Catholic institutio­n.

Payne-elliott filed a lawsuit in July 2019, alleging that the archdioces­e illegally interfered with his contractua­l and employment relationsh­ip with Cathedral High School by causing the school to terminate him.

The archdioces­e asked the lower court in August 2019 to dismiss his lawsuit, citing the First Amendment as a defense.

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