Ark. teacher fired from Catholic school after marrying same-sex partner

FacebookTippi McCullough (right) and her spouse Barb McCullough

Tippi McCullough (right) and her spouse Barb McCullough

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — An Arkansas teacher has been fired from a Catholic school after she married her same-sex partner in a ceremony in New Mexico.

Tippi McCullough, an English teacher at Mount St. Mary Academy in Little Rock, Ark., for 15 years, said she received a call from a school secretary 45 minutes after she marriage Barb Mariani in wedding last Wednesday telling her she risked losing her job if she married.

FacebookTippi McCullough (right) and her spouse Barb McCullough

Tippi McCullough (right) and her spouse Barb McCullough

She said the secretary said that the school had learned of the upcoming marriage through “the diocese.”

The following day, McCullough said he found urgent phone messages from principal Diane Wolfe.

“She told me she never thought the day would come, that I was a great teacher and that she would give me a glowing recommendation if I resigned,” McCullough said. “She said her hands were tied when I signed a legal document.”

McCullough, who said Wolfe cited a contract clause that allows dismissal for a lifestyle contrary to church teaching, claimed the school has singled her out.

“They hire people who aren’t Catholic, with a lot of different belief systems. What’s upsetting to me is that the morality clause covers birth control, premarital sex and they are certainly not pro-choice,” McCullough told the Arkansas Times.

“It’s disturbing to me that no straight teacher is called in and asked if she’s using birth control or unmarried and having premarital sex with a boyfriend,” she said.

Chad Griffin, an Arkansas native and President of the Human Rights Campaign, criticized the action in a rare public statement on such matters.

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“To fire a beloved teacher simply because she is gay is morally reprehensible,” said Griffin. “At a moment when Pope Francis is urging the Catholic hierarchy to put aside judgment and a decades-long campaign targeting devoted LGBT Catholics, it’s shameful that this school is ignoring that hopeful message in favor of explicit and baseless discrimination.”

On Friday, Friday, Mount St. Mary Academy President and CEO Karen Flake said “our mission and core values as a Catholic school require that our actions be aligned with what we believe and teach.”

“Given that we are a Catholic school, we adhere to the teachings of the Catholic Church and have a responsibility to provide a solid Catholic formation for our students,” Flake said, in a statement.

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