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Commentary: Macy’s fires employee for “religious beliefs” – or does It?
By Jay Morris, QSanAntonio.com, December 8, 2011

(Reprinted with permission from JaySays.com)

The Macy’s store at Rivercenter Mall in San Antonio, Texas, recently came under fire for its termination of Natalie Johnson, who was employed there until a few days before Thanksgiving. Ms. Johnson refused to allow a transgender woman to use the lady’s fitting room. According to the organization representing Ms. Johnson, Liberty Counsel, she was fired for her religious beliefs. To clarify, they argue she was fired for being Christian.

Blog posts and comments abound, telling the story of the oppressed Natalie. Most of the stories indicate that Liberty Counsel is a pro-Christian rights organization, a claim which is designed to sway the public to rally behind a suspect class: the religious. But Liberty Counsel is anything but pro-Christianity. Their purpose has not historically been to walk in the steps of Christ, but instead to demand our government provide them, as moral superiors, with the infinite power to bend others to their will.

In her recent address in honor of Human Rights Day, Secretary of Defense Hillary Clinton highlighted these sorts of religious justifications for discrimination noting:

The third, and perhaps most challenging, issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens. This is not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation. Some people still defend those practices as part of a cultural tradition. But violence toward women isn’t cultural; it’s criminal.

But even though Liberty Counsel wants you to believe this is about Ms. Johnson’s religion, it is not. Liberty Counsel is not a “Christian rights group,” but rather an organization devoted to preventing the human rights of LGBT people. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center:

In 2009, J. Matt Barber, formerly with Concerned Women for America and Americans for Truth About Homosexuality…, joined Liberty Counsel as director of cultural affairs (also becoming Liberty University’s associate dean for career and professional development). A year earlier, Barber had argued that given “medical evidence about the dangers of homosexuality,” it should be considered “criminally reckless for educators to teach children that homosexual conduct is a normal, safe and perfectly acceptable alternative.”

The Counsel also has been active in battling same-sex marriage, saying it would destroy the “bedrock of society.” In 2005, the group’s blog said: “People who … support the radical homosexual agenda will not rest until marriage has become completely devalued. Children will suffer most from this debauchery.” A 2007 blog posting said same-sex marriage would “severely impact future generations.”

Like other anti-gay groups, Liberty Counsel argues that hate crime laws are “actually ‘thought crimes’ laws that violate the right to freedom and of conscience” — an opinion rejected by the Supreme Court.

The claims by Liberty Counsel are not a declaration of freedom, but instead further desperate attacks by a group of people protected by Federal Non-Discrimination Laws (religious people), on a group that is not (transgender people). Freedom of religion is a protection from worshipping as one chooses, not from forcing your opinions on others.

Jay Morris is the Texas State Lead for GetEQUAL.org, a founding member of the Direct Action Network of San Antonio, a contributor for TheNewCivilRightsMovement.com, and blogger at JaySays.com.

Macy's dressing room incident sparks debate on transgender rights
QSanAntonio.com, December 9, 2011
A woman who was fired from the San Antonio Macy's store in Rivercenter Mall is claiming that she was exercising her religious freedom when she told a transgender woman that she could not use the woman's dressing room. The incident has garnered national attention and has sparked a vigorous debate here in San Antonio.

Macy's worker fired for denying dressing room to transgender customer
kens5.com, December 7, 2011
A local college student says she was fired from her job for refusing to allow a transgender woman into the women's dressing room. Now she's speaking out, saying her religion conflicts with the store's transgender policy. 

Firing of Macy's worker pits freedom of religion vs. GLBT rights
By Abe Levy, San Antonio Express-News, December 8, 2011
A former Macy's employee who said she was fired for refusing to let a transgender woman use the women's dressing room at the Rivercenter mall location is trying to get her job back.

Macy's Fires Employee For Refusing To Let Transgender Customer Use The Women's Dressing Room
Huffington Post, December 7, 20ll
Macy's may have become synonymous with the holiday shopping season after its appearance in the Christmas classic "Miracle on 34th Street," but not all is merry and bright at a Texas branch of the popular retail chain, where an employee was fired after she refused to allow a transgender woman to use the ladies' fitting room.

Macy’s worker reportedly fired for not allowing transgender shopper into dressing room
Houston Chronicle, December 7, 2011
An employee at a Macy’s in San Antonio was fired for not allowing a transgendered shopper to use the store’s women’s fitting room, saying doing so would violate her Christian beliefs, according to the Liberty Counsel, a religious advocacy organization that’s helping her fight the store’s policy.

Macy’s Fires Employee for Protecting Women’s Dressing Rooms from Cross-dresser
Liberty Counsel.com, December 5, 2011
A young woman was fired from the Macy's San Antonio Rivercenter department store in Texas for refusing to violate her religious beliefs by permitting a young man dressed as a woman from entering the women’s dressing room.