Fired Catholic a Victim of 'Heterophobia,' Group Says

Nathan Burchfiel | Staff Writer | Thursday, July 13, 2006

Fired Catholic a Victim of 'Heterophobia,' Group Says

(CNSNews.com) - Robert J. Smith, a Maryland transportation appointee who was fired June 15 for describing homosexuality as a "deviancy," is the victim of "heterophobia," according to a group that advocates for "ex-gays."

Maryland Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich, who had appointed Smith to represent the state on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) board of directors in June 2004, fired him after Smith commented on a local cable show.

Smith, who is Roman Catholic, had called homosexuals "persons of sexual deviancy."

Washington, D.C., Councilman Jim Graham, who also sits on the Metro board and is openly homosexual, called on Smith to apologize for his comments or for Ehrlich to fire him.

In a statement on the firing, Ehrlich called Smith's comments "highly inappropriate, insensitive and unacceptable" and said they were in contrast to the governor's "commitment to inclusiveness, tolerance and opportunity."

But the Washington-based group, which advocates the idea that homosexuals can change their sexual orientation and become "ex-gay," said Smith was a victim of Graham's "heterophobia."

"He's being fired for statements that he made, which really were based on his religious convictions," said Regina Griggs, executive director of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX).

Chris Chrain, the executive editor of the homosexual weekly newspaper the Washington Blade, wrote on his blog Tuesday that Smith should have expected to be fired.

"When a public official uses his own religious beliefs as a basis for public policy that would treat gays as 'sexual deviants,' and that official serves at the pleasure of the governor whose stated views are to the contrary, that official should expect to be sacked," Chrain wrote.

But Griggs said Smith should not have been punished for his beliefs because he expressed them outside the workplace. "He was talking on a different program not related to Metro," she said. "It had nothing to do with his job. This did not come up at a meeting nor take place in the workplace."

According to Griggs, Graham in 2003 criticized PFOX ads that had been placed in Metro stations and lashed out at the Roman Catholic Church for its policies on homosexuality.

"We know we're in trouble when homosexual politicians advocate tolerance and inclusion for their own but cannot respect the views of heterosexuals," Griggs said. "Let's remember that heterosexuals, including ex-gays, are also worthy of respect."

She said that because Smith was fired for expressing his views on homosexuality, Graham should be fired too. "If he's making these kinds of comments and he's berating religious people I fail to see the difference," she told Cybercast News Service . "He was not disciplined for that. He never apologized for that."

Graham's attacks were worse, Griggs said, because while Smith made his comments "out of the context of his job," Graham was "sitting there being paid to do a job and his comments were directly involved with his job."

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