So this lesbian goes walking into a counselor’s office to get help with her same-sexed relationship. Actually, it sounds like the start of a really bad joke but it isn’t. The counselor’s name is Marcia Walden. In addition to being a counselor she is a devout Christian who believes it is immoral to engage in same-sex relationships. So she faced a tough decision when Jane, her prospective client, sought help resolving problems in her lesbian relationship.
Rather than misleading her, Marcia decided to tell Jane about her religious conflict, indicating that it would be unfair for her (Jane) if she were to serve as her counselor. But she remained helpful and offered to refer Jane to another counselor named Ken Cook.
Jane met with Mr. Cook just ten minutes later and even acknowledged that her counseling experience was “exemplary.” Mr. Cook told Marcia she had done the “right thing” by making the referral. For awhile everyone seemed happy, if not gay.
But later in the day Jane was feeling angry. So she called Ms. Walden’s supervisor Mr. Hughes and complained that she refused to counsel her due to “homophobia.” Hughes contacted Ms. Walden to tell her of the complaint about which he was “very concerned.”
Later, Ms. Walden was subjected to an interrogation about her religious beliefs. There were several supervisors there including Mr. Hughes who told her that if she ever found herself in a similar situation she should simply make up an excuse (read: lie) instead of telling the truth about her religious beliefs. Of course, Ms. Walden also stated that lying was against her religious beliefs.
After Mr. Hughes was unable to convince Ms. Walden to lie to prospective clients an employee relations specialist named Jacqueline Byrum implied that Walden should not discuss her religious objections to homosexuality. Instead, she should just tell the prospective homosexual client that she was not experienced with relationship counseling. Walden again reiterated her religious objections to intentionally misleading prospective clients.
On August 30, 2007, Christie Zerbe, a Center for Disease Control employee, sent an email demanding Ms. Walden’s removal solely because she referred Jane to another counselor. Without the benefit of any effort to accommodate her religious beliefs and practices, Walden’s employment was terminated.
Ms. Walden really wasn’t asking for much in this particular case – indeed, it isn’t like she wanted her employer to build a foot-washing basin to help her prepare for a daily prayer ritual. And Jane the lesbian had to wait no more than ten minutes to get “exemplary” counseling from someone more capable of catering to her needs.