ADF represents counselor in 11th Circuit fired for referring gay client to colleague


From the Alliance Defense Fund press release:

ADF attorneys are appealing a federal court ruling issued last March against Marcia Walden–a licensed associate counselor who was fired after she referred an individual seeking same-sex relationship counseling to a colleague. In order to avoid providing a service that would conflict with her sincerely held religious beliefs, Walden made a professional decision to refer the potential client to another counselor. Walden later learned that the counselee filed a complaint even though the counselee said she was very satisfied with the work of the other counselor.

“A counselor who is a Christian shouldn’t lose her job for upholding the highest professional standards,” said Campbell. “It is unlawful to punish a Christian for abiding by her faith, particularly when she made every effort to accommodate the interests of a potential client.”

The complaint occurred in 2007 when a woman employed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sought counseling regarding a same-sex relationship from Walden, a counselor at Computer Sciences Corporation.  Walden realized that providing counseling on that topic would conflict with her values, and as a result, Walden referred the individual to a colleague.

Walden had no religious objection to counseling someone who is involved in a same-sex relationship, so long as the client did not seek counseling to directly affirm or promote that relationship.  Standing on her religious beliefs, Walden felt she could not use her talents as a counselor to encourage or strengthen such relationships.

After meeting with the client, Walden’s colleague told her that she had done “the right thing” by referring the woman to him. However, after the referred client complained, her supervisors proceeded with an investigation and religiously based questioning--leading to her termination. ADF filed the suit Walden v. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on her behalf in 2008.