Unless you have been on planet Mars for the last few months, you will realise that the US Supreme Court made gay marriage legal in every state of America last month. This was a wonderful step in the quest for equality for people of every sexuality. However, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that that legal protection does not equal total acceptance. This is something that has been highlighted by the following story.
Married gay teacher Margie Winters delivered a 23,000 person petition to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia asking for her job back after she was fired for being married.
“The school and the Sisters of Mercy allowed me to work there for eight years. Once the diocese was notified, something changed,” said Winters, who was disappointed that a security guard, and not a church official, took her petitions at the door.
Winters, 50, lost her job at Waldron Mercy Academy in June after a parent complained that she has got married to her same-sex partner in 2007.
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, stressed that Catholic schools are responsible for “teaching and witnessing the Catholic faith in a manner true to Catholic belief,” referring to the church’s condemnation of gay activity. He said the Mercy officials showed “character and common sense” for sticking to church teachings.
“A great number of people like to pick apart the remarks of the Holy Father and manipulate them to drive their own agendas,” his spokesman, Ken Gavin, said in response to questions about the Pope’s latest comments. “Keeping the doors open does not mean that basic church teachings will be changed. … The Holy Father has not given any signals that teaching on the meaning and sanctity of marriage will be changing.”
This is in reference to the Pope seemingly softening his stance on marriage. He called for the opening of doors to divorced and remarried Catholics, and commenting “Who am I to judge?’ when questioned about homosexuality. However, for many in the Catholic church, there is a huge difference between not persecuting a group and casting them into hell, and actually accepting gay marriage.
It seems that Winters had an excellent reputation as a teacher.
“She was really able to instill in the kids that helping those less fortunate is something you do every day. It wasn’t just something she would pull together on a holiday,” said parent Jerry Dever who has two children at Waldron.
In a pained July 3 letter to parents that noted Winters’ “amazing contribution” to the school, principal Nell Stetser said the school must recognise “the authority of the Archbishop of Philadelphia, especially in the teaching of religion.”
“My hope is the pain we experience today adds to the urgency of engaging in an open and honest discussion about this and other divisive issues at the intersection of our society and our church,” she wrote.
Should the Exemption Stay?
What happens next is going to be interesting. As things stand, the church has got an exemption from anti-discrimination laws. Now you can’t tell a religious group how to interpret their book. One of the reasons that the gay marriage law was so popular is that it didn’t negatively effect anyone. The Church wasn’t forced to perform gay marriage. There aren’t going to be that many people who want to see a priest dragged to a marriage he doesn’t want to go to, and then getting sued if he refuses. Yet, there is a huge problem if a good teacher is getting fired.
I actually think it would be awful and cause more problems if laws against religious groups were brought in. It would actually create the idea of a war, and not progression. What needs to happen is the Church needs to work out what feels about gay marriage. Maybe they need to have a moratorium on the firing of gay people in these kind of circumstances similar to those of Mrs Winters?
Whatever happens, there really is a long way to go.
Since then, he has specialised in articles on the battle for equal rights for sex workers, sexual health, as well as bringing the readers fun news from around the world. He also has a major interest in LGBT rights, and is an active campaigner in this field.
When he isn't fighting the good fight, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, and young daughter. He also enjoys reading and taking long walks.
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