There's a movement right now in the American Philosophical Association to prevent schools that have a code of conduct restricting sexual behavior to within heterosexual marriage from advertising in the main job market publication of the field, which is run by the APA.
Before I look to what I think is the key moral issue here, I want to make a few things clear. One is that the current APA policy allows de facto discrimination on the part of participating institutions. The proposed change would mean the APA is actually engaging in discrimination, because they would be excluding schools with a statement of faith or moral code of a certain sort. If you have a choice between allowing someone else to engage in de facto discrimination and engaging in discrimination yourself, then other things being equal you ought to do the former. Aside from pure consequentialists, most philosophers should be willing to count that in favor of retaining the current practice, other things being equal.
The second is that the discrimination in question is merely de facto, not facial. I've seen people calling it facial discrimination, and it's plainly not. This distinction is found in legal discussions, including court decisions going all the way up to the Supreme Court. Facial discrimination is basically discrimination that wears its discrimination on the surface or on its face. Facial discrimination on the basis of race is discrimination for the obvious reason of the person's race. De facto discrimination, on the other hand, is simply an effect of diminishing the likelihood of inclusion by someone of the group in question. A policy of giving priority to people you know when you hire a new employee has the effect of giving white employers more likelihood of white employees, and since white employers are more often interviewing for top jobs you will see a racial effect given that people's friends more often than not are disproportionally one's own race compared to the percentages in the general population. Courts have consistently refused to tolerate de facto discrimination claims as legally problematic for obvious reasons. There has to be intent to discriminate on the basis of race for a race discrimination claim, and it pretty much has to wear it on its face.
In this case the kind of discrimination we're dealing with is not sexual orientation discrimination on its face. The discriminating element is a choice to hire people who share one's views and/or practices. These schools are hiring only those who will sign a statement of faith or conduct that includes either the view that same-sex sexual relations are immoral or a commitment not to engage in such practices. This will indeed certainly have a disproportionate effect of eliminating gay people more than straight people, but it's not discrimination according to sexual orientation. It's discrimination according to moral viewpoint or behavior.
Third, some people in this discussion are simply insisting on consistency with the APA's existing policy on discrimination. They want the APA to change their discrimination statement if they're going to allow these institutions to participate. If these people are being honest, then they wouldn't mind one way or the other if the APA (a) stops allowing these schools to participate or (b) removes their language against discrimination from their official stances. I tend to doubt that this is a very large group who care only about consistency. I suspect most of the people signing this thing are advocating just (a) and would disapprove of (b). But I think those making the consistency argument should not use it alone to favor (a) over (b).
But I don't think any of those concerns gets to the heart of the central moral issue here. The main difficulty I see is that the APA has to decide between (1) allowing schools that de facto discriminate and (2) enacting their own discriminatory practice. They need a clear argument why their own discrimination would be much less bad than merely tolerating someone else's. I think we in fact face the opposite situation, but that's what's going to take some argument. The rest of the post is my reasoning for that claim.
I'm not a big fan of those who claim religious persecution because their public schools won't allow Christmas songs to be sung in their holiday concert, including only secular tunes like Jingle Bells or Frosty the Snowman. I do think it's pretty stupid to include songs from religions other than Christianity for their holidays but then using Jingle Bells to represent Christianity, as I've heard of some schools doing. But I think it exaggerates things greatly to call this persecution of any serious sort, and it diminishes our sense of the real suffering Christians currently face worldwide and have faced for two millenia for their faith.
Nevertheless, I do consider such a move by the APA, if it ends up occurring, to be a kind of religious persecution of an immoral sort, one that I see as very similar to President Obama's desire to prevent freedom of choice on the part of medical professionals with regard to whether they participate in abortion. This is the main way anyone can advertise a job in philosophy, and if Christian schools with traditionally Christian moral codes are disallowed, then I think the profession has engaged in some pretty serious discrimination, even if it's meant to combat a different kind of discrimination. The question then becomes which discrimination is more important. Is it worse to disallow people to take a job teaching at a school that disapproves of gay sex if the person happens to engage in gay sex, or is it worse to prevent such schools from advertising in the one main publication that allows Christian schools to participate in mainstream philosophical activity? I think the answer is pretty obvious. The second is far worse, and I think this is obvious even if you don't accept the moral framework of these schools.
Consider the group of people who would be harmed by the first kind of discrimination. The main impact of these schools' policies is on those who might seek to teach at these schools if there weren't such a policy. Since most of these schools have a pretty conservative statement of faith, they have to be pretty much like mainstream evangelicals in their moral and theological views. So for there to be a problem they both have to (1) accept the full authority of the Bible and want to teach at a school with the same view and (2) not accept the actual teaching of the Bible on this issue but accept a reinterpretation of the texts in question that takes a good deal of cognitive dissonance and revisionism. There are such people. I'm not going to pretend that it's a non-existent category. But I want it to be clear exactly how restricted this group is. What the APA is proposing is that these conservative evangelical institutions remove that one element but retain the rest if their philosophy departments want to participate with full APA privileges. They'd be forced to hire professors who don't accept their stance on this issue, which undermines the very idea of having a moral code to begin with. Is it worth it for the very small group of otherwise conservative evangelicals who happen to have a liberal view on this one issue who might want to teach at conservative evangelical institutions? I don't think so.
Now consider the group harmed by the second policy. If these institutions were not allowed to advertise for their positions, then no school with a sufficiently robust moral code in the conservative Christian tradition would be allowed to participate in the primary venues of hiring in the field of philosophy. There's been a great deal of movement in philosophy in the last few decades of recognizing philosophy of religion as a legitimate field of study again, largely because of relatively conservative evangelicals and those friendly to such views demonstrating that it's quite possible to hold such views and be a top-notch philosopher. The ridiculous vacant stare that a lot of philosophers give to Christian views is still present, but there's been a lot more respect for evangelical and other conservative Christian philosophers. There are a few pretty good philosophy departments at evangelical institutions, especially when it comes to training graduate students at the masters level to prepare them for good Ph.D. programs. In the 1950s theism of any sort was derided without any serious argument. Christian philosophers have shown that the arguments that had been widely taken as definitive refutations of Christianity turn out not to be all that good as philosophical arguments go.
I don't think the movement to change the APA policy on this matter is driven by a desire to end Christian participation in the APA. I also don't think it's driven by the view that Christianity itself is hardly worth of philosophers' consideration as a serious viewpoint. I'm sure a lot people signing these petitions think that. I've met enough personally who I know would sign such a petition who almost certainly do think that. But I don't think that's the motive. The motive is simply to stop discrimination. My contention is that it's not worth it. It reverses what I would argue has been a very good move toward acceptance of a minority viewpoint in philosophy that happens to have a lot wider acceptance in society at large, and I do think it would be very bad to move in the opposite direction, something that I think the proposed move would cause. But my main reason is that it just seems to me that when you've got two kinds of discrimination to consider, and resisting one means enacting the other, then you ought at least to weigh which would be more harmful rather than simply pretending the one you aren't fighting isn't discrimination. One clearly harms a much wider group, one that faces all manner of obstacles in the philosophical profession. I don't think you need to accept any of the moral views of these conservative institutions to see this.