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Minister claims
he was fired for defending same-sex marriage

A Unitarian
minister in Louisville, Ky., filed suit Friday against the
Kentucky Farm Bureau, claiming the agency fired him for
speaking publicly against a state constitutional
amendment banning same-sex marriage.
The Reverend Todd Eklof, a minister at Clifton
Unitarian Church in Louisville, said the lawsuit is
about more than getting back his job as a corporate
video producer. It's a way to keep the same-sex marriage
issue in the public eye, he said. "This lawsuit is
about justice for all," he said at a press conference
held to announce the suit, which was filed in
Jefferson County circuit court.
Eklof claimed in the suit that the Kentucky Farm
Bureau dismissed him from his job in January, two
months after he stood before his congregation and
announced he would perform no marriages of any kind
until same-sex marriage is legalized. Representatives of the
Kentucky Farm Bureau did not immediately return
messages Friday afternoon.
In a letter dated January 18, the Farm Bureau
gave several reasons for terminating Eklof. Executive
vice president David Beck said it is against Farm
Bureau policy for employees to take "high-profile positions
on public issues" and that Eklof had missed several
days of work and failed to complete work assignments
on time. Eklof called the reasons for the firing
"trumped up."
Kentucky was one of 11 states that amended their
constitutions last fall to outlaw same-sex marriage.
The amendment defined marriage in Kentucky as being
limited to one man and one woman. It also prohibited
unmarried people from ever obtaining "legal status
identical to or similar to marriage."
Same-sex marriages were already prohibited under
state law, but amendment advocates claimed the measure
was needed to prevent such marriages from eventually
being legalized.
Beth Wilson, executive director of the American
Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, said Eklof paid the
price for standing up against a vocal group pushing a
discriminatory measure. "He was willing to stand up for
justice even when it would have been much easier to go on
about his life," Wilson told a crowd of about 50 in a
downtown Louisville park.
Eklof said his announcement about marriages drew
some media attention. After it was publicized, Eklof
claims, his supervisors took several steps to force
him out of the job. "I will continue to be public, not
political," Eklof said. (AP)

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