Regis Catholic Schools (in Eau Claire, Wisconsin) has been searching for a new president. But it won’t be Tim Nelson, as the parochial-school organization originally announced; they’ve withdrawn their announcement from early April that he was the best candidate for the job.
Nelson is hopping mad, and claims that decision is based on erroneous information about his sexual orientation. He says the organization approached him with misgivings about a name connected with him in his father’s obituary — almost the same way another Catholic school discovered that Carla Hale was a lesbian. Nelson insists the name, which was in parentheses next to his, belonged to a close family friend who is his roommate and prayer companion, but not his partner or lover. The format of the obituary may have misleadingly implied a romantic relationship, but Nelson pleads ignorance of obituary-writing etiquette.
In any case, he notes that even if he were gay — and he’s really, really not! — the Church does not condemn the orientation, as long as the individual in question remains perpetually celibate. That’s cold comfort for most gay Catholics, but Nelson sees no problem with it, and Regis affirmed that it’s their position as well. But they seem to have less confidence in Nelson’s celibacy than he’d like; they have announced their intention to hire another candidate, a Regis alumnus by the name of Mark Gobler. (Hemant’s note: I’m in awe of Sara’s ability to refrain from making a joke here.)The parochial school denies that sexual orientation had anything to do with their decision, arguing that Nelson displayed “a lack of candor about his affiliations with religious communities during the interview process,” an allegation Nelson calls “a complete lie.”
Understand that Nelson isn’t angry at the school for refusing to hire gay people. He has no problem with judging homosexuals or refusing them employment based on what they do when they’re off the clock. No, he’s just angry because he’s not a homosexual, and he thinks it’s unfair that even people who aren’t gay should be subject to anti-gay bigotry because of someone’s incorrect perceptions.
In other words, it’s not fair to discriminate against perceived gays, only actual ones.
But, of course, that’s part of the reason why prejudice is bad and should be opposed at every opportunity. Being part of the powerful group that enforces discrimination is no guarantee that such discrimination won’t one day get turned around and used against you.