Skip to comments.Foes on the left, friends on the right
Posted on 11/27/2005 6:55:29 AM PST by AgThorn
Employee who lost job after criticizing same-sex marriage in online essay says he"s a victim of reverse discrimination
By Robert Sanchez
Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted Wednesday, November 23, 2005
To insurance giant Allstate Corp., former employee J. Matt Barber is simply one guy disputing his termination.
But to same-sex marriage opponents, the circumstances behind Barbers dismissal from the Northbrook-based company have made him a 36-year-old cause celebre.
Barber, a born-again Christian, says he was fired for writing an online article defending marriage and criticizing homosexuality. The Villa Park resident later filed a federal lawsuit alleging that Allstates action constituted discrimination on the basis of religion.
This is about free speech, said Barber, a non-practicing attorney. Its about the chilling effect that Allstates actions have on individual rights. How much control does a corporation have over their employees private activities?
An Allstate representative, however, says Barber was using company resources on company time to dabble as an online conservative columnist.
Bev Horne/Daily Herald J. Matt Barber is gaining the support of conservative groups and even gubernatorial candidate Jim Oberweis. who has hired Barber to coordinate his campaign in DuPage County.
No employee of Allstate has ever been terminated for expressing their personal views using their own equipment on their own time, spokesman Michael Trevino said.
Some conservative groups arent buying that explanation. They have been using newsletters and the Internet to spread Barbers story and urge Allstate customers to cancel their policies.
Matts become the symbol for politically correct repression, said Peter LaBarbera, executive director of the Glen Ellyn-based Illinois Family Institute. He lost his job for just giving his thoughts.
A year ago, Barber was enjoying life in the business worlds fast lane.
He spent five years with Allstate, mostly with the corporate security department, and was paid a six-figure salary.
His wife, Sarah, was about to give birth to the couples third child in four years. And they had just invested tens of thousands of dollars into restoring and renovating their house near downtown Villa Park.
On his off time, Barber was trying a new hobby as a columnist. He was an unpaid, part-time contributing editor for theconservativevoice.com. Several conservative Web sites were re-running his opinion pieces.
Last December, Barber penned the essay that would raise the ire of one of the largest gay and lesbian advocacy groups in the nation.
Washington D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign says Barbers essay, æIntolerance Will Not Be Tolerated! The Gay Agenda vs. Family Values, was intolerable.
It was deeply offensive, said Daryl Herrschaft, director of the groups workplace project. It showed a thorough lack of compassion for the lives and families of gay and lesbian people.
Barber said he was merely expressing his religious beliefs. Its an honest, reasonable disagreement to think that marriage between two men is incompatible, he said.
Herrschaft claims Barber used junk science to support the view that same-sex marriage is oxymoronic and that the homosexual lifestyle causes dreadful and preventable health-related pitfalls.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion not their own facts, Herrschaft said.
What most concerned the Human Rights Campaign is that Allstate somehow sanctioned the essay. Barbers affiliation to the company was mentioned in biographical information that ran with the essay at mensnewsdaily.com.
We knew the company has been a fair-minded employer for years, Herrschaft said. So we contacted them for clarification. And we requested no specific action.
But Allstate did take action on Jan. 31 when Barber was called into a meeting with human resources supervisors.
According to Barber, a supervisors slapped down a printed copy of the article in front of him and asked if he had written it. Barber said he did.
The first words out of his mouth were, You know here at Allstate we have a very diverse community,æ Barber said.
The supervisor then told Barber that the company didnt share his position and didnt want to be associated with it. He then was told that he was suspended with pay and escorted off the campus.
After the two-day suspension, Barber received a brief telephone call informing him that he was terminated.
While the company received inquiries about whether Barbers opinions were shared by Allstate, the spokesman insists thats not why Barber was fired.
The reason he was terminated was because he used company resources to further his own personal journalistic activities, Trevino said.
But Barber said the companys policy is to first issue a warning. He never got one. Allstate also refused to send a letter stating why he was terminated another violation of company policy, Barber claims.
Trevino declined to comment on those issues.
In the meantime, Barbers drawing his own conclusions.
If I had written a column as an advocate for the homosexual lobby and identified myself as an Allstate employee I wouldnt have been fired, he said. I would have been uplifted as doing Allstate a favor.
Backlash or bark?
Barber isnt the only one refusing to believe Allstates version of his termination.
In May, Barber sued Allstate, retaining David Gibbs III, the attorney who represented Terri Schiavos parents in the last weeks of her life. The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as legal fees.
Within weeks, his story was being spread through the Internet and on conservative radio programs. One Web site, Canadafreepress.com, wrote, Allstate may have unwittingly spawned an anti-same-sex marriage martyr in the spunky J. Matt Barber.
LaBarbera says Barbers case has touched a nerve with millions of people.
They relate to a guy getting fired for what he believes, especially when what he believes is right up with what they believe, LaBarbera said.
He said conservatives have been complaining for years that political correctness is getting out of control.
Then, lo and behold, the article this guy wrote gets slapped down on the desk, and hes asked to explain it, he said. Pretty soon the thought police will be out there.
So conservatives and pro-family groups alike are calling on their supporters to e-mail Allstate executives and boycott the company, which insures 17 million households.
We have received e-mails from individuals, Trevino said. But its all been manageable.
He declined to comment on how many e-mails Allstate has received and whether any customers have canceled their insurance policies.
I can tell you that it has not caused any disruption in our business, he said.
But LaBarbera said Barbers case is only going to grow in stature. He predicts Allstate will lose tens of thousands of customers.
Fame not fortune
Being well-known hasnt prevented Barber from falling into financial straits.
He hasnt been able to keep up with his $3,000-a-month mortgage and is behind on his property tax payments.
Barring some miracle, were going to lose our home to foreclosure, he said, noting that he and his wife have been unable to sell their house, despite having it on the market for months.
The couple has had to rely on the generosity of strangers to help pay the bills.
After a talk Barber gave last week in Glen Ellyn, at least two audience members gave him personal checks. Palatine businessman, Richard Hartian, offered him a job.
For me, its an outrage that he would be fired for something as non-threatening as writing an article on his personal time, said Hartian, president of Ardain Mortgage Corp. It seems totally unfair.
Gubernatorial candidate Jim Oberweis beat Hartian to the punch. The Aurora dairy magnate has hired Barber to coordinate his campaign in DuPage County.
Anyone who has heard Matts story of standing up for traditional family values knows that we have a talented fighter on our team, Oberweis said in a statement.
The Human Rights Campaigns Herrschaft declined to comment about others rallying around Barber.
It concerns me when anyone is misrepresenting gay and lesbian families and demonizing them, he said. Because it is the kind of action that, ultimately, does lead to violence.
As a Christian, Barber says he loves everyone. He insists there is nothing hateful about his beliefs.
For me to voice my belief that there is sanctity in a marriage between one man and one woman, thats not hate, he said. Thats just the cornerstone of society.
But for them to snatch away my ability to provide for my young family, that is an act of hate.
Radicals Steal Family's 'Home for the Holidays'
ALERT: If you're like me, you spent Thanksgiving with your family, seated comfortably around the dining room table in the family's home.
Matt Barber's family is about to lose that privilege -- because the radical left's "politically correct" police have pushed his employer to FIRE him for expressing his conservative beliefs (on his OWN TIME), and they are about to lose their home as a result.
As Illinois Family Institute Executive Director Peter LaBarbera stated regarding this persecution, "As we prepare to thank God for all the blessings we have as Americans, we currently have an opportunity to help Matt Barber, a Christian who was fired by Allstate for expressing his beliefs -- on his own time -- against homosexual 'marriage.' Please read the Daily Herald's Nov. 23 article about Matt's case, and if you feel so led, help Matt's family keep their home by making a donation through our friends at Lutheran Church Charities (LCC). LCC has set up a special fund to help the Barber family."
The article in Chicago's "Daily Herald" is available for a limited time here:
Matt Barber is suing Allstate for religious discrimination, but right now he and his wife Sarah and their three children are in danger of losing their Villa Park home to foreclosure. As LaBarbera told the Daily Herald, "Matt's become the symbol for politically correct repression. He lost his job for just giving his thoughts."
At Thanksgiving, we all have a lot to be thankful for, but others are finding it hard, especially those who suffer for taking their Christian beliefs into the marketplace. As so many are rushing out today to take advantage of the biggest shopping day of the year, let's do a little something extra... for a persecuted family in need.
TAKE ACTION: Allstate has denied firing Barber for his off-time expression of his religious beliefs, but here are the facts: The State of Illinois (Department of Employment Security) conducted a thorough investigation into Allstate's actions and ruled, without equivocation, in favor of Mr. Barber. The investigation determined: "The claimant (Mr. Barber) was discharged from Allstate Insurance Company because an outside organization had complained about an article he had written while on his own time."
Allstate did not identify the "outside organization," although it appears the radical left-wing homosexual lobbying group "Human Rights Campaign" instigated it all.
The State's investigation further concluded that Allstate intentionally chose to terminate Barber's employment for writing the article despite the fact that he engaged in no misconduct whatsoever: "The term misconduct means the deliberate and willful violation of a reasonable rule or policy of the employer... In this case, the claimant's action which resulted in his discharge was not deliberate and willful." This determination, issued March 8, 2005, was not appealed by Allstate.
On May 26, 2005, Attorney David Gibbs III of the Christian Law Association filed suit in federal court against Allstate Insurance Company on behalf of Mr. Barber. He had been employed as a manager in the corporate security division at the company's Chicago area headquarters. They're still in court.
To help save the Barber's home from foreclosure, you can send a tax-deductible gift today to Lutheran Church Charities. Just click on their website below, then click the "DONATE MONEY" button on the left, and then scroll down and select "IFI-Barber" to make your online donation:
For those who wish to send a gift in the mail to help the Barbers save their home before Christmas, make your check out to Lutheran Church Charities and send it to:
Barber Family Fund Lutheran Church Charities 333 W. Lake St. Addison, IL 60101
The Lutheran Church Charities phone number is 866-455-6466.
Also, if you don't believe Allstate's flimsy rationale for firing Matt Barber, and you're not happy with the way Allstate is treating people of faith, let their chairman know:
Edward M. Liddy Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer The Allstate Corporation 2775 Sanders Road Northbrook, IL 60062-6127 (800) 574-3553 email@example.com https://messaging.allstate.com/Corp/Corp_ProcessEmail.asp
NOTE: Be sure to forward this Alert to EVERYONE you know who wants to help a family that's being persecuted by the radical Left -- help them keep their "home for the holidays". Thank you!
William Greene, President RightMarch.com
FYI - found the article that Barber wrote last December that started this track of making him our 'poster boy' for conservative speech rights ...
While I agree he should sue Allstate, I do wonder why he hasn't found another job to support his family. Is the wife also unemployed? Makes one wonder if he's holding out for a settlement with Allstate to set him up for life.
I would agree ... perhaps he's considered a 'hot potato'. He could definitely work elsewhere while pursueing his lawsuit.
I also noted in the mensnewsdaily.com article from December 2004, that it clearly identifies him in his job at Allstate. That may have been a mistake.