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Ohio bishop: Gay teacher’s firing was about marriage, not sexual orientation

Wednesday, May 1, 2013
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COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Roman Catholic bishop in central Ohio says the firing of a gay teacher at a Columbus Catholic school was based not on her sexual orientation but on the need to maintain the institution’s marriage values.

Bishop Frederick Campbell

Carla Hale

Bishop Frederick Campbell told The Columbus Dispatch for a story published Wednesday that Carla Hale was fired in March because she violated the church’s moral teaching through what he described as a “quasi-spousal relationship” with a woman.

He said an extramarital affair by a heterosexual couple would go against the same teaching.

Hale said she was fired from Bishop Watterson High School after her mother’s published obituary included the name of Hale’s partner, and someone complained. The physical education teacher is fighting to get her job back through a grievance with a teachers union and a complaint to the city.

The bishop told the newspaper that diocesan officials “don’t necessarily go looking for things like that,” but Hale’s decision to name her partner in her mother’s obituary made the relationship public and initiated the termination process.

Campbell said that as bishop, he has a responsibility to maintain the Catholic identity of the institutions under his purview.

Hale’s attorney argued that neither the teacher contract nor the diocesan policy specifically bound Hale, a Methodist, to abide by church tenets or to practice Catholicism.

Hale has filed a complaint with the Columbus Community Relations Commission and is pursuing a grievance through the local Catholic teachers union. More than 100,000 people have signed an online petition seeking her reinstatement.

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