Supervisors responded Tuesday to an internal complaint by a county employee which alleges a partnership with the evangelical Christian school Vanguard University is discriminatory and therefore a violation of a county policy, because of the school's views on homosexuality and gay marriage.
The county has a deal with Vanguard and two other institutions, Brandman and National University, to provide county employees with reduced tuition in exchange for allowing the universities to advertise to employees in internal electronic communications.
Chris Prevatt, an LGBTQ activist and Health Care Agency employee who filed the complaint late September, says the county's own nondiscrimination ordinance should prohibit it from partnering with Vanguard University, which rejects homosexuality, gay marriage and premarital sex, according to a policy on its website.
Supervisor John Moorlach said in a phone interview that, while he is waiting to hear from the county's legal counsel, employees have three different institutions to choose from, and Vanguard is just one of them.
He also responded to a Voice of OC article about the complaint in a post titled "Tolerance," on a blog, Moorlach Update, where he regularly offers commentary on his media appearances.
"...when the LGBT community has achieved so much in recent history, it is disappointing that it appears that they are now shutting out a segment of our society," Moorlach wrote. "It is awkward to see a group that has been oppressed now becoming the oppressor. Especially when the one being oppressed preaches a doctrine of love."
Prevatt said that while he does not object to Vanguard's religious affiliation, he does object to allowing the university advertise on internal county communications.
"Pushing people to convert to a particular belief system, or to deny one's own sexual identity, does not demonstrate in my opinion anything other than religious bigotry," Prevatt said. "It's fine for folks to believe in these things, but not for it to be promoted using government resources."
Supervisor Todd Spitzer said the partnership with Vanguard would be concerning if there were not already two other schools offered to employees, although he said he would reserve his judgment until hearing from the county's legal counsel.
"If, and I emphasize if, an institution were to engage in discriminatory practices then I don't think it's an appropriate opportunity for the county to offer," Spitzer said from the dais.
Supervisors previously approved deals with Brandman and National University earlier this year. The agreement with Vanguard was completed through staff action, after supervisors granted the Human Resources department the authority to do so.
Supervisor Patricia Bates declined to comment when approached at the dais, saying she had not been briefed on the issue. Chairman of the Board Shawn Nelson and Supervisor Janet Nguyen did not return calls for comment.
Voice of OC is a non-profit newsroom that covers real news. You can directly support us at http://goo.gl/la0y4S.