MN Human Rights Act Does Not Protect 'Homophobic' Comment

April 15, 2004 ( - Minnesota's Human Rights Act does not extend protection to church employees involved in religious work.

>The Minnesota state Court of Appeals, concurring with a lower court’s opinion, upheld Randall Egan’s dismissal after he called a fellow member of the Hamline United Methodist Church of St. Paul “homophobic.”   This after Egan argued his dismissal constituted discrimination and retaliation on the basis of his sexual orientation in violation of the state Human Rights Act, according to an Associated Press report.

Egan, who is bisexual, was dismissed from his church music director’s post after he refused to apologize for calling another church member “homophobic.”   This came after the church was contemplating a declaration that it would welcome gay, lesbian, and bisexual parishioners into its membership.  

>Egan contended the dismissal was discriminatory.   A lower state court disagreed, on the basis the Human Rights Act exempts church employees involved in religious work.

In his appeal, Egan argued he was not involved in religious work, saying his position was essentially secular.   However, the appellate court disagreed, find music “has a central and substantial role in expressing religious faith; it is often described as a ‘ministry of music.'”   Thus, Egan was involved in religious work and did not have the protections of the Act afforded to him, the appeals court said.

The text of the opinion may be viewed at .