(Sacramento, CA) – Bay Area lawmakers sent a letter to Salvatore Cordileone, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, urging him to withdraw discriminatory morality clauses as conditions of employment at four Catholic high schools under his control in Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo Counties.
The letter states the morality clauses “conflict with settled areas of law and foment a discriminatory environment,” which sends “an alarming message of intolerance to youth.” Referring to the affected schools as “locally revered institutions,” the lawmakers note the expansive morality clauses jeopardize the ability of these schools to continue their legacy of educating local leaders. “If that were to occur, everyone loses,” the lawmakers said.
Crafted by Assemblymembers Phil Ting (D–San Francisco) and Kevin Mullin (D-San Mateo), the letter was signed by every lawmaker representing the communities served by Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory and Archbishop Riordan in San Francisco, Junipero Serra in San Mateo, and Marin Catholic in Kentfield.
Released by the archdiocese on February 4 as additions to the 2015-2016 faculty handbook, the morality clauses require staff, administrators, and teachers to “arrange and conduct their lives” so as to “not visibly contradict, undermine or deny” expansive conditions that infringe on the personal freedoms of school employees. Among these freedoms are the choice of who to love and marry, how to plan a family, and what causes or beliefs to support through freedom of speech and association. When paired with the reclassification of all school employees as “ministers” through ongoing collective bargaining, the morality clauses effectively remove civil rights protections guaranteed to all Californians. Faculty who violate them would have no recourse for subsequently getting fired.
The lawmakers noted, “the narrow exception for ‘ministers’ in federal anti-discrimination law was never intended to be a tool for discrimination.”
The full text of the letter follows.
February 17, 2015
The Most Reverend Salvatore Cordileone
Archbishop of the Diocese of San Francisco
1 Peter Yorke Way
San Francisco, California 94109
Dear Archbishop Cordileone:
We the undersigned urge you to withdraw new conditions for employment at four archdiocesan-administered Catholic high schools in the Bay Area because they conflict with settled areas of law and foment a discriminatory environment in the communities we serve.
The morality clauses that you recently added to the 2015-2016 faculty handbook, set to take effect on August 1, outline expansive conditions on the professional, public, and private lives of every school employee. For that reason, we question the purpose of reclassifying all employees as “ministers” through ongoing collective bargaining because it effectively removes civil rights protections guaranteed to all Californians. Among these rights are the freedom to choose who to love and marry, how to plan a family, and what causes or beliefs to support through freedom of speech and association. The narrow exception for “ministers” in federal anti-discrimination law was never intended to be a tool for discrimination. This sends an alarming message of intolerance to youth educated at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory and Archbishop Riordan in San Francisco, Junipero Serra in San Mateo, and Marin Catholic in Kentfield.
Although your position wields discretion over working conditions at schools affiliated with the Catholic Church, the standards within the morality clauses would be illegal for any another employer. Your proposal goes beyond regulating behavior in the workplace and infringes upon the personal freedoms of your employees. It strikes a divisive tone, which stands in stark contrast to the values that define the Bay Area and its history. We are known and beloved around the world for our celebration of diversity, our political activism, and our unwavering commitment to ensure that all people may live with dignity as equals.
The impacted high schools have deep roots in our history, dating back to the establishment of Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory in 1852. These schools are locally revered institutions because they have educated generations of leaders. The expansive morality clauses imposed onto faculty jeopardize the future of this legacy by undermining the capacity of these schools to attract and retain the best educators. If that were to occur, everyone loses.
If left in place, the morality clauses will serve a counterproductive purpose. We urge you to reconsider and withdraw them for the best interests of the schools, the students, and the communities we all serve. We would be happy to meet with you to discuss these issues further. Thank you for your consideration of our views.
Assemblymember, 19th District
Assemblymember, 24th District
Assemblymember, 17th District
Assemblymember, 10th District
Assemblymember, 22nd District
Senator, 11th District
Senator, 13th District
Senator, 2nd District
CONTACT: Anthony Matthews (Ting), tel. (916) 319-2019
Susan Kennedy (Mullin), cell (925) 437-2510