Getting married is supposed to be one of the happiest days in someone's life. There's the flowers, the cake, the partner of your dreams, celebrating with friends and family and neighbors. For Laine Tadlock, an administrator at Benedictine University in Springfield, getting married cost her a job.
Tadlock traveled to Iowa this summer with her life partner, Kae Helstrom, to tie the knot. And it wasn't really much of a secret. Tadlock had been an employee at Benedictine University for five years, and had been out to many of her colleagues since day one. A bunch of them even knew about the same-sex wedding, and were supportive of Tadlock getting married to the woman she loved most in this world.
But when Tadlock and Helstrom came back to Springfield, and included a same-sex wedding announcement in the State Journal-Register, the city's paper, things started to unravel fast. Senior college leaders saw that one of their employees was same-sex married, and promptly called Tadlock into their office. They were disgusted that an employee at Benedictine University, a Catholic school, would not only attend but be the centerpiece of a same-sex wedding. And they moved quickly to get rid of her.
Upset at Tadlock, leaders at the college offered her early retirement as a way to get rid of her. A qualified employee of five years, the college wanted to give her a year's worth of pay, followed by a second year at two-thirds pay, followed by a third year at one-thirds pay. Tadlock said no, believing that her gay wedding announcement wasn't good cause to send someone packing at a job.
Then Tadlock was told that if she didn't accept early retirement, administrators at the University would terminate her employment immediately, citing a conflict with the school's mission. Yes, a paragraph blurb describing your wedding is apparently akin to Judas betraying Jesus.
Then, as if school administrators couldn't dig themselves more of a hole, they backtracked on that idea, and instead told Tadlock that they would offer her a new position at the school, Director of Assessment, Accreditation and Institutional Effectiveness. Nice offer, right? Except that it has nothing to do with Tadlock's skills or capabilities. It would be like telling an astronaut that you'd like to take them off the space shuttle, and assign them to perform open heart surgery.
And then finally, capping off this saga, the school just went back to their plan to terminate Tadlock. Which they did, effective October 28.
Send Benedictine University and the Catholic Diocese of Springfield a message that employees shouldn't be fired over wedding announcements. This had no impact on Tadlock's ability to do her job, and is contrary to the school's anti-discrimination policy, which includes protections on the basis of sexual orientation and marital status.
Tadlock publish a short announcement of that wedding in the State Journal-Register, Springfield's paper, and afterwards was told by leaders at your school that she had violated the school's moral code and could no longer keep her job.
This is ludicrous. Her decision to get married or print a same-sex wedding announcement has no impact on her ability to do her job -- which she had done well for five years. Moreover, Benedictine University has a non-discrimination policy that says you don't discriminate against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or marital status. In this case, it appears that you're doing both.
That's unacceptable. Employees shouldn't be fired for marrying the love of their lives, least of all when an employer has an anti-discrimination policy that includes protections for these kinds of things. I'm appalled at your actions, and urge you to reinstate Tadlock to her position, and apologize for terminating her.
The message you send by terminating someone like Tadlock is one of intolerance. No one is forcing your school to recognize same-sex marriage or change your opinions about homosexuality. All we're asking is that you recognize the dignity of all of your employees, no matter who they love.