A Christian mayoral candidate in the United Kingdom has filed a lawsuit against her employer after she was fired for expressing her Biblical beliefs about marriage.
For 13 years, Maureen Martin, 56, from the borough of Lewisham in southeast London, worked for London & Quadrant Housing Trust (L&Q)—one of the largest housing associations in England—as a housing manager. She has also served as a member of a U.K. political party called the Christian People’s Alliance (CPA) since 2015.
Martin announced her decision to run for mayor of Lewisham under CPA’s platform in January. In April, she published a leaflet in which she outlined her “six-point plan” to better Lewisham as mayor.
One of her points addressed the issues of marriage and family:
“I pledge to cut through political correctness and simply state the truth that natural marriage between a man and a woman is the fundamental building block for a successful society and the safest environment for raising children,” Martin promised.
A photo of the leaflet was subsequently posted to Twitter where some users suggested Martin’s stance on marriage qualified as “hate speech.”
While various LGBTQ advocates aired their displeasure online, L&Q received just three formal complaints. One complainant claimed Martin’s views were “hateful”; one called her a “bigoted moron”; and the other demanded she undergo “anti-oppressive training” and be subject to “disciplinary action,” according to Christian Concern.
L&Q moved forward with an investigation and Martin was interrogated about her views on marriage, sexuality and gender.
When human resource staff asked Martin if she could understand why people were upset by her Christian beliefs, she responded that she did understand, but their freedom of speech didn’t trump her freedom of speech.
“People can disagree,” Martin explained. “That’s what it is all about. I might not like what you say, but I will fight for your right to say it. I know people will be upset. But I can’t contain my views in case it causes upset. We either have freedom of speech or we don’t. I’m not always happy with what others say. I appreciate my views can cause upset; but it is not a hate speech. I’m expressing my opinion based on fact. They disagree and they have a right to do so.”
Following the investigation, Martin was suspended and eventually fired for “gross misconduct.”
She is now suing L&Q for unfair dismissal, discrimination and harassment.
“We have never seen a case like this which sends a crushing message to anyone who believes in Christian marriage and wishes to express those beliefs at work or in public office,” said Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Legal Centre, the law firm representing Martin.
“Maureen is a courageous woman who has been treated appallingly for having the guts to declare her belief that marriage between a man and a woman is best for children and our society,” she added. “We stand shoulder to shoulder with her as she seeks justice.”
While Martin didn’t succeed in her run for mayor of Lewisham, she refuses to apologize for being open about her Biblical beliefs.
“It is disturbing how Christian beliefs on marriage, which have been held and expressed for thousands of years, are being silenced and treated with such hostility and disdain,” she said. “The message this is sending is if you want to engage politically and make a difference in your community, but if your views don’t line up with the liberal agenda, you can potentially be fired from your job.
“If my manifesto had been in support of same-sex marriage, would I have had the same response?
“I am determined to fight for justice and to ensure that no other Christian political candidates and employees go through what I have.”
Photo: Courtesy of Christian Concern