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A Response to Another Critic of My Open Letter to the President of the University of Toledo: Did Dixon's Remarks Disqualify Her from Her Position at Human Resources?

 

The response that I have received for my "Open Letter" has been overwhelmingly positive. But at least one person thinks that I "missed the point" completely. Someone sent the following letter to Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth (http://americansfortruth.com), on 5/10/08 and Peter forwarded it to me:

 

Peter, your Prof. Gagnon missed the point about Toledo University and Ms. Dixon. Missed the point entirely. If you read her column in the paper, she writes about information she knows only because she is vice president for human resources. It is false of her to claim she was writing as a private citizen when she writes about things in her professional capacity. In her professional capacity she is the Equal Employment Opportunity enforcement officer for the University. Toledo University prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In othr words, at Toledo University, gays and lesbians have civil rights. And Ms. Dixon is paid as the chief enforcement officer of those civil rights. Ms. Dixon made very public that she does not believe gays and lesbians HAVE civil rights. How CAN she enforce rights she does not believe people even have? THAT is the issue. And that is why she was fired yesterday. Prof. Gagnon just did not get it. He and you also keep forgetting that religion is a choice and enjoys civil rights protections. Please be more careful on who you publish on your website. I think Prof. Gagnon was a mistake. His research was a bit sloppy too though I don\'t have to go through each and every piece with you now.

 

Here is my response:

It is the person who criticized me for missing the point who has it wrong.  

First, Ms. Dixon did not state that she wouldn't carry out the school's policies with regard to sexual orientation. To the contrary, she stated: "To suggest that homosexual employees on one campus are being denied benefits avoids the fact that ALL employees across the two campuses regardless of their sexual orientation, have different benefit plans. The university is working diligently to address this issue in a reasonable and cost-efficient manner, for all employees, not just one segment."  

Second, Ms. Dixon has a right to express her opinion that homosexual attraction and behavior is not comparable to being black, a female, or a handicapped person, even in her capacity as (or especially in her capacity as) a person working in Human Resources. Even when a policy is laid down one would think that in an academic setting ongoing dialogue about the correctness of certain policies should be allowable especially on the part of persons involved in implementing the policy. Before the University of Toledo ever had any policy about extending medical benefits to employees in same-sex partnerships I'm sure that staff in Human Resources had a right to advocate in newspapers that benefits ought to be so extended. In doing so, they would have been calling into question current policy. That is all that Ms. Dixon was doing.  

Third, the larger point of my open letter to the President was that his personal views, and the policy of the University, about homosexual orientation and behavior being a comparable civil rights category with race, age, disability, and sex were scientifically, philosophically, and morally groundless. In talking about the University's "value system" and "the highest ethical standard," Jacobs was entering the realm of morality. As such his, and the University's, views on homosexuality must be able to command strong rational arguments for making the analogy between homosexual attractions and behavior on the one hand and the non-behavioral, benign characteristics of race, sex, disability, and age on the other hand. My point is that because he is unable to make such strong rational arguments his and the University's stance is bogus. It should be rethought and Ms. Dixon should be commended for jumpstarting such a new discussion. Indeed, in disciplining Ms. Dixon for providing some "diversity" of thinking, he violated the University's own standard of "creating an environment that values and fosters diversity." He doesn't want diversity; he wants conformity to his own intellectually indefensible personal and political views. 

Fourth, the critic argues that I am forgetting that religion enjoys civil rights protections. This is exactly what the critic is forgetting, for Ms. Dixon's right to maintain her religious convictions without being penalized by her employer have been violated. 

The critic claims that my research was "a bit sloppy." Let him or her demonstrate where this is so. So far s/he has made a case for nothing.

 

Sincerely,

 

Robert Gagnon, Ph.D. 

 

 

 

  2008 Robert A. J. Gagnon