Wendy Gonaver lost her teaching job at Cal State Fullerton one day before class was scheduled to begin, because she refused to sign a loyalty oath swearing to "defend" the U.S. and California constitutions "against all enemies, foreign and domestic."
As a Quaker from Pennsylvania and a lifelong pacifist, Gonaver objected to the California oath as an infringement of her rights of free speech and religious freedom. She offered to sign the pledge if she could attach a brief statement expressing her views, a practice allowed by other state institutions. But Cal State Fullerton rejected her statement and insisted that she sign the oath if she wanted the job.
"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."
California State University officials say they were simply following the law and did not discriminate against Gonaver because all employees are required to sign the oath. Clara Potes-Fellow, a Cal State spokeswoman, said the university does not permit employees to submit personal statements with the oath.
"The position of the university is that her entire added material was against the law," Potes-Fellow said.
In February, another Cal State instructor, Quaker math teacher Marianne Kearney-Brown, was fired because she inserted the word "nonviolently" when she signed the oath. She was quickly rehired after her case attracted media attention.
It is hard to know how many would-be workers decline to sign the pledge over religious or political issues. Some object because they interpret the pledge as a commitment to take up arms. Others have trouble swearing an oath to something other than their God.
Here's an interesting story at the Los Angeles Times by Richard C. Paddock: Link
(Photo: Mark Boster / LA Times)