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California's shameful practice of McCarthy era "loyalty oaths" is something the ACLU of Southern California knows something about.  Eason Monroe, the Executive Director of the ACLU/SC from 1952 to 1972 was fired from his teaching position at San Francisco State College in 1950 for not signing the newly passed "Levering Act" requiring public employees to affirm that they did not advocate overthrow of the government "by force or violence or other unlawful means."

"I already had taken a positive oath to support the Constitution," Monroe was quoted, "I felt the two oaths were in utter contradiction. How can you swear to uphold the Constitution and thereafter sign away your rights under the Constitution?"

Flash forward 35 years, long after the fall of Soviet era Communism to another firing, this time of Cal State Fullerton faculty member, Wendy Gonaver, a Quaker and a Pacifist.  She was fired this academic year because of her refusal to sign the oath which also requires swearing to "defend" the U.S. and California constitutions "against all enemies, foreign and domestic."  She offered to sign the pledge if she could attach a statement expressing her views but Cal State Fullerton rejected her statement and insisted that she sign the oath if she wanted the job. She was subsequently fired for upholding her religious beliefs. "I wanted it on record that I am a pacifist," said Gonaver, 38. "I was really upset. I didn’t expect to be fired. I was so shocked that I had to do this."

The ACLU of Southern CA has been working to make changes to the loyalty oath so religious freedom can be upheld in the state of California. We saw victory last week in the Assembly and Senate and now SB1322 is on its way to the governor's desk. Gov. Schwarzenegger hasn't said if he'd sign the bill into law so Wendy Gonaver wrote him an open letter, urging his support.

"A healthy government does not require its people to put expressions of patriotism above faith, nor does it stifle dissent," writes Wendy.

The ACLU/SC has created a petition to urge Gov. Schwarzenegger to sign the "Loyalty Oath Reform Bill," SB 1322. Please help us build enough pressure to ensure the governor respects religious freedom and free speech. Sign the petition today.

Thank you for your support!

The ACLU of Southern CA

Originally posted to ACLU of So Cal on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:55 AM PDT.

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