Psychologist Fired For Anti-Gay Affiliation Settles With City

The city of Minneapolis has agreed to settle a lawsuit with  a fired psychologist two weeks before the trial was set to begin. A few years ago, protesters called for Michael Campion's resignation after his affiliation with the anti-gay group Illinois Family Institute was made public. Campion was let go but reinstated soon after. He is now walking away with $210,000.

Mc The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports:

"Council Member Gary Schiff, who is gay, said, 'It was clear the settlement was in the city's best interest.'"

"The Family Institute has stated that it opposes the 'gay lifestyle.'"

"If the city had lost at trial, it could have been made to pay Campion's attorney's fees. Schiff said the settlement amount includes legal fees."

"In reaching the decision, Schiff said, the council leaned heavily on an 18-page pretrial ruling from Ericksen, in which she wrote, 'The court observes, at this preliminary state, that plaintiffs' First Amendment interests appear to be strong.'"

"Jim Campbell, of the Alliance Defense Fund of Arizona, said the settlement 'reinforces that the government cannot penalize Christian contractors for their beliefs.  The court had already issued a decision finding that the City of Minneapolis removed Dr. Campion because of his constitutionally protected involvement with a Christian organization, noting that Dr. Campion's constitutional rights were strong.'"


  1. James E. Pietrangelo, II says

    I strongly condemn and oppose all discrimination and prejudice against LGBT Americans, but I strongly agree that in the fight for equality we cannot demand rights from our enemies and then violate theirs or condone violation of theirs. Campion had a First Amendment right to privately associate with others. We can still protest that association to the hilt though, but government may not penalize him for that association, just as it may not penalize us for being LGBT. Campion’s comeuppance will be being relegated to the wrong-side of history, among other things.

  2. Hue-Man says

    This is the first time I’ve heard of this story so excuse my ignorance. Was he proselytizing at work? Was he expressing his anti-gay sentiments to patients, colleagues, superiors, etc. on the job? Sure there’s free speech at work – I can call my boss a jerk and an idiot – but there’s also the freedom to get fired that often is the result!

  3. James E. Pietrangelo, II says

    Hue-Man: the answer to your question is, no. According to the federal judge’s pre-trial decision in the case, which I have read, there was not even an allegation by the City of actual bias or improper conduct against LGBT by Campion/his firm in his/their work performance for the City. The judge found from the evidence that the City had “fired” Campion/his firm after it had found out about Campion’s personal association with a private advocacy group that condemns homosexuality and decided that such an association might translate into his/their work and that the public might perceive his/their work as biased. Again, I’m not defending Campion or his ignorant and offensive personal view on homosexuality (and if he actually brings it into his work then he should and can be fired), but rather the principle of equality and rights. Indeed, based on my limited vantage point of the situation, it seems like what happened in this case is exactly what is happening to Judge Vaughn Walker in the Prop 8 federal case. People who oppose equality for LGBT are saying that his decision was biased simply because he himself is Gay. They completely ignore the fact that the opinion is sound based on legal principles and the evidence. We can’t become the very thing we oppose–bigots–by imposing a monolithic state of mind on everyone.

  4. Joey Y says

    I think we’re all on the same page here. The guy didn’t bring any affiliations into his professional life according to anything I’m seeing, so it was completely ridiculous for the city to fire him. That’s like firing someone for being a Democrat, or on the mailing list for Greenpeace. Not anyone’s business but his.

  5. Joe says

    What type of organization was the Illinois Family Institute? Some “pro-family” groups are hateful groups that are, I think, only a few steps away from being the KKK.

    Part of the problem is that he is a counselor – just like that Augusta State student was. Part of his professional duties are to counsel gay clients fairly, and his association with this group (and who knows what the membership requirements might be, but it could say that you have to condemn homosexual acts all the time) means that he might have done his job very poorly and was unfit to practice it.

    I’m just frustrated at this settlement, as I think it will be blasted everywhere by the right and used to show what “victims” they are.

  6. James E. Pietrangelo, II says

    Joe, just a few comments (and I don’t mean to sound preachy, so forgive me if I do). I think this is a very important principle at stake here to defend, because what the City was arguing is exactly what anti-LGBT forces for decades have been saying about LGBT–that we have to be excluded from the Military, government, work, society, etc, because what we do in our private life MIGHT or DOES affect the public good. It’s nonsense. My first comment is that even if the guy belonged to the KKK, I’m not sure that the First Amendment would not still protect him as long as he did not bring it to work (although it must be noted that under a First Amendment analysis, a person is not automatically entitled to government employment/contract and the government may balance the public good against an ACTUAL harm). The federal judge noted–and the City did not seem to dispute–that Campion did not discriminate against LGBT in his work. In fact, the City hired another firm to evaluate his work for bias and found none. Again, it is the right to privately associate, not the group associated with, that is operative. You may wonder if the IFI is a few steps from the KKK, but there are people out there who wonder if LGBT-rights groups are a few steps from similar dangerous groups on the other side of the spectrum. GetEQUAL, with whom I have worked, I’m sure is on the watch-list for every conservative evangelical group in the country. Who’s to say which non-violent groups are “OK” to associate with? That is the whole purpose of the First Amendment “freedom of association” clause–that the government does not get to determine with whom citizens associate. Second, I don’t think the analogy to the counseling-students cases fits. Those were strictly cases having to do with the right of a college to set its own curriculum. Moreover, the students in those cases did exactly what Campion–according to the federal judge in his case–did not do–which is engage in their bias within their work field. From what I read of the student cases, they simply refused to counsel LGBT people. Again, the federal judge found no evidence that Campion had discriminated against LGBT people. Third, you surmise that Campion might have done his job poorly because of his associational beliefs, but, again, the federal judge found–and the City did not dispute–that that was not the actual case. Finally, Campion WAS the victim in this case. It does us–the LGBT community–no good to start ignoring injustices against our political enemies simply because they are our enemies. When I fight for LGBT equality I do not do so because I am Gay, but because I am a citizen and as a citizen I deserve my rights. Campion is a citizen and as such he deserves his rights as well. It is totally misguided to start viewing rights as a function of what group we fall into. Lastly, I wouldn’t worry about any tactical advantage anti-LGBT forces may get from this case. The tide has turned in favor of LGBT equality. Moreover, we can only get stronger by defending our principles.