- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 8, 2015

MERION, Pa. (AP) - The director of religious education at a Roman Catholic elementary school outside Philadelphia says she was fired because of her same-sex marriage.

Waldron Mercy Academy in Merion sent an email Friday informing parents of the dismissal of Margie Winters, who had worked there for eight years.

Principal Nell Stetser said the school must comply with Catholic philosophy and that she had a duty to protect its future.

“In the Mercy spirit, many of us accept life choices that contradict current Church teachings,” she said, “but to continue as a Catholic school, Waldron Mercy must comply with those teachings.”

Winters was hired in 2007 and married her wife in Boston that same year.

While Winters was told she could be open with faculty, she told The Philadelphia Inquirer (https://bit.ly/1gnEHVu ) in Wednesday editions that administrators advised her to avoid discussing her personal life with students’ parents.

“So that’s what I’ve done,” she told the newspaper. “I’ve never been open. And that’s been hard.”

She said she kept a low profile about her marriage but at least two parents found out. One complained to the school, she said, and the other contacted the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Winters said she refused a request to resign and was fired in a June 22 letter from the school.

Lower Merion Township has an antidiscrimination ordinance that protects employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation. But religious institutions are exempt unless they are supported at least in part by government appropriations.

Stetser wrote in her email that she wants the issue to start a dialogue and bring about some clarity.

“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,” Stetser wrote.

Some Waldron parents said they’re meeting Wednesday in support of Winters.

Nancy Houston, who plans to host the meeting with her husband, said the firing is “not something we’re going to accept quietly.”

___

Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, https://www.inquirer.com

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