George F. Will calls our attention to this 9th Circuit decision (district court opinion here). At issue is the right of a group of Christian city employees to publicize their organization as "a forum for people of Faith to express their views on the contemporary issues of the day. With respect for the Natural Family, Marriage and Family Values." This, in a context where gay city employees have publicized their interests in the same way. Here’s Will’s analysis:
The city government said the flier was "determined" to promote harassment based on sexual orientation. The city warned that the flier and communications like it could result in disciplinary action "up to and including termination."
Effectively, the city has proscribed any speech that even one person might say questioned the gay rights agenda and therefore created what that person felt was a "hostile" environment. This, even though gay rights advocates used the city’s communication system to advertise "Happy Coming Out Day." Yet the terms "natural family," "marriage" and "family values" are considered intolerably inflammatory.
The treatment of the GNEA illustrates one technique by which America’s growing ranks of self-appointed speech police expand their reach: They wait until groups they disagree with, such as the GNEA, are provoked to respond to them in public debates, then they persecute them for annoying those to whom they are responding. In Oakland, this dialectic of censorship proceeded on a reasonable premise joined to a preposterous theory.
The premise is that city officials are entitled to maintain workplace order and decorum. The theory is that government supervisors have such unbridled power of prior restraint on speech in the name of protecting order and decorum that they can nullify the First Amendment by declaring that even the mild text of the GNEA flier is inherently disruptive.
Why can’t we all just get along? The distance from the GNEA flyer to harassment is so great that the city’s response is outrageous. Endorsing and responding to the concerns of the single gay employee who objected creates a "hostile environment" for traditional religion. Not that either the city or the objector cares about that....