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Federal appeals court upholds termination of anti-gay human resources administrator

CINCINNATI, Ohio -- A federal appeals court on Monday upheld the University of Toledo's decision to fire a high-level human resources administrator, who wrote a newspaper opinion column challenging the idea that LGBT people deserve the same civil rights protections as members of racial minority groups.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit Court ruled that Crystal Dixon's column "contradicted the very policies she was charged with creating, promoting, and enforcing, and cannot be excused as merely a statement of her own views as a private citizen."

The court upheld a lower court's decision to dismiss the lawsuit.

Dixon, who had been the University's interim Associate Vice President for Human Resources, wrote the essay published in the Toledo Free Press in April 2008 in which she took aim at LGBT people.

Dixon wrote that she was greatly offended that "those person who choose the homosexual lifestyle are 'civil rights victims.'" adding that she "cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a black woman" because she is biologically and genetically such "as my creator intended."

But, she said, "daily, thousands of homosexuals make a life decision to leave the gay lifestyle" with the help of groups such as Exodus International, which claim to be able to help people overcome homosexual desires.

In her lawsuit, Dixon charged that the university's decision to terminate her violated her constitutional rights. She accused the university administration of violating her First Amendment rights by retaliating against her for her speech.

She also claimed that her 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law was violated by punishing her for expressing her views on homosexuality while other university employees were allowed to state views on homosexuality that the administration favored.

In upholding the dismissal of Dixon's lawsuit, the appeals panel noted that she in fact differed from other university employees cited in her equal protection claim in that "her speech, and not theirs, contradicted university policies."

The court ruled that Dixon's essay "spoke on policy issues related directly to her position at the university," and the government's interests as an employer outweighed her free-speech interests in the dispute.

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