Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Foes on the left, friends on the right
Daily Hearald - Suburban Chicago ^ | November 23, 2005 | Robert Sanchez

Posted on 11/23/2005 6:37:01 AM PST by KeyLargo

Daily Herald

Foes on the left, friends on the right

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 Barber’s 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 Allstate’s action constituted discrimination on the basis of religion.

“This is about free speech,” said Barber, a non-practicing attorney. “It’s about the chilling effect that Allstate’s 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.

Essay excerpts

Free speech or not? Related story A call to come out quashed

“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 aren’t buying that explanation. They have been using newsletters and the Internet to spread Barber’s story and urge Allstate customers to cancel their policies.

“Matt’s 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.”

The firing

A year ago, Barber was enjoying life in the business world’s 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 couple’s 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 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 Barber’s essay, “æ‘Intolerance’ Will Not Be Tolerated! The Gay Agenda vs. Family Values,” was intolerable.

“It was deeply offensive,” said Daryl Herrschaft, director of the group’s 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. “It’s 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. Barber’s affiliation to the company was mentioned in biographical information that ran with the essay at

“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 didn’t share his position and didn’t 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 Barber’s opinions were shared by Allstate,” the spokesman insists that’s 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 company’s 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, Barber’s 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 wouldn’t have been fired,” he said. “I would have been uplifted as doing Allstate a favor.”

Backlash or bark?

Barber isn’t the only one refusing to believe Allstate’s version of his termination.

In May, Barber sued Allstate, retaining David Gibbs III, the attorney who represented Terri Schiavo’s 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,, wrote, “Allstate may have unwittingly spawned an anti-same-sex marriage martyr in the spunky J. Matt Barber.”

LaBarbera says Barber’s 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 he’s 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 it’s 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 Barber’s case is only going to grow in stature. He predicts Allstate will lose “tens of thousands” of customers.

Fame not fortune

Being well-known hasn’t prevented Barber from falling into financial straits.

He hasn’t been able to keep up with his $3,000-a-month mortgage and is behind on his property tax payments.

“Barring some miracle, we’re 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, it’s 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 Matt’s 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 Campaign’s 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, that’s not hate,” he said. “That’s 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.”

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Extended News; News/Current Events; US: Illinois
KEYWORDS: allstate; gays; gaystapo; mattbarber; workplace
For more background on J. Matt Barber's firing by Allstate Insurance go to:

1 posted on 11/23/2005 6:37:03 AM PST by KeyLargo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: little jeremiah

"Matt Barber" ping

2 posted on 11/23/2005 6:47:01 AM PST by indcons (FReepmail indcons to join the "Military History" ping list)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: KeyLargo

Never, never, never say "reverse" discrimination.

It's a liberal corruption that implies one is guilty in the first place and deserves what they are getting.

This is a simple case of discrimination against christianity.

3 posted on 11/23/2005 6:59:22 AM PST by the
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: KeyLargo

I suspect if Mr Barber were a homosexual and had advocated same sex marriage,Allstate would have supported him as an example of their comittment to diversity.Maybe even a raise?

4 posted on 11/23/2005 7:31:02 AM PST by Thombo2
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: KeyLargo
>conservatives and pro-family groups alike are calling on their supporters to e-mail Allstate executives and boycott the company

Another boycott!
If someone had patented
"boycotts," they'd be RICH!

5 posted on 11/23/2005 7:35:23 AM PST by theFIRMbss
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Homosexual Agenda Ping.

Background and update on the Matt Barber/Allstate story. Note carefully this statement from the Human Rights [sic] spokeshuman, the org that complained to Allstate to get Barber fired:

***The Human Rights Campaign’s 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.”

Notice how he is equating any criticism of the "gay" life with violence. This is their tactic to squash any rational debate. It is their talking point. Can't have any negative speech about homosexuality, because it leads to violence. HATESPPEECH alert. More advocating totalitarian speech control will be coming soon. Remember the protest in front of the church in Boston against the ex-gay ministry? It got pretty violent.

Freepmail me and DirtyHarryY2K if you want on/off this pinglist.

6 posted on 11/23/2005 9:42:23 AM PST by little jeremiah
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson