Lesbian sues Kansas City diocese over firing - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

Lesbian sues Kansas City diocese over firing

Posted: Updated:
By RACHEL ZOLL
AP Religion Writer

A parish food pantry worker who was fired over her marriage to another woman sued the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph on Thursday, the latest in a growing number of clashes over gay rights between Roman Catholic leaders and their employees nationwide.

Colleen Simon, 57, said the diocese and the parish where she worked knew she was married and that her wife was a well-known community leader before Simon was hired. She was fired when the couple was mentioned last April in a newspaper article.

"I was mostly shell-shocked," Simon said. "I hadn't thought it would come to this."

Diocesan officials hadn't yet seen the lawsuit, but said in a statement, "As a church, we have the right to live and operate according to our faith and church teachings."

New Ways Ministry, a Catholic gay rights group, has found more than 15 cases since 2010 of U.S. teachers, school administrators or parish musicians who lost jobs or resigned after expressing support for gay marriage or going public with their own same-sex relationships. Several of the former employees have sued.

Dioceses in Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio; Honolulu; Oakland, California, and elsewhere have added morals clauses to their teacher contracts barring public support for gay rights. Other dioceses have asked volunteer educators to sign pledges on upholding church teaching.

The Missouri lawsuit was filed Thursday by Colleen Simon, who said she worked as a parish bookkeeper in the diocese before she was hired in 2013 as a food pantry coordinator at St. Francis Xavier Church. In each step of the hiring process, she said she told administrators she had married a woman a year earlier in Iowa, where gay marriage is recognized, and diocesan and parish representatives said her marital status would not be a problem.

Simon's wife, the Rev. Donna Simon, is a pastor at a Kansas City congregation affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Colleen Simon said she underscored her wife's public role in case the Jesuit parish had expectations the couple would be "discrete" about their marriage.

When a new priest was assigned to the church, Simon said she told the new pastor she was in a same-sex marriage. Then, the Simons were mentioned in a news article about the redevelopment of their neighborhood, accompanied by a photo of Colleen Simon working at the food pantry.

Soon after, the priest told Simon he had to fire her over the article. The dismissal letter sent last month from the diocese human resources director said she was fired because of the "irreconcilable conflict between the laws, discipline and teaching of the Catholic Church, and your relationship - formalized by an act of marriage in Iowa - to a person of the same sex." Simon provided a copy of the letter to The Associated Press.

The legal petition, filed in Jackson County Circuit Court, accuses the diocese and Bishop Robert Finn of civil fraud for leading Simon to believe her same-sex marriage would not affect her job.

The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has been facing a raft of litigation in recent years over clergy sex abuse that has cost the church millions of dollars in settlements and legal fees. Finn was convicted in 2012 of failure to report suspected abuse to civil authorities and was sentenced to probation.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • U.S. & World NewsMore>>

  • Home owned by Trump holdout sells at auction

    Home owned by Trump holdout sells at auction

    Thursday, July 31 2014 3:57 PM EDT2014-07-31 19:57:00 GMT
    By SAMANTHA HENRY Associated Press She once called Donald Trump "a maggot, a cockroach and a crumb." This week, he remembered her as "an impossible person."More >>
    By SAMANTHA HENRY Associated Press An Atlantic City-area real estate figure has bought at auction a property that earned its owner near-folk hero status for resisting decades of overtures from developers...More >>
  • W. Africa Ebola outbreak tops 700 deaths

    W. Africa Ebola outbreak tops 700 deaths

    Thursday, July 31 2014 3:55 PM EDT2014-07-31 19:55:34 GMT
    The president of Sierra Leone has declared a public health emergency as the Ebola crisis deepens across West Africa.More >>
    Security forces went house-to-house in Sierra Leone's capital Thursday looking for Ebola patients and others exposed to the disease as the death toll from the worst recorded outbreak in history surpassed 700 in West...More >>
  • Generation of tanners see spike in deadly melanoma

    Generation of tanners see spike in deadly melanoma

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 3:37 PM EDT2014-07-30 19:37:39 GMT
    The acting U.S. surgeon general is asking Americans to give up their love of sunbathing and indoor tanning beds, citing an alarming 200 percent jump in the number of deadly melanoma cases diagnosed since 1973.More >>
    Stop sunbathing and using indoor tanning beds, the acting U.S. surgeon general warned in a report released Tuesday that cites an alarming 200 percent jump in deadly melanoma cases since 1973.More >>
Powered by WorldNow

News Channel 25 KXXV-TV
P.O. Box 2522
Waco, TX 76702

Phone Numbers:
Main: 254-754-2525
Tip Line: 254-757-2525

Links
Contact Us
KXXV Employment Opportunites
FCC Filings
Advertise on KXXV

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KXXV. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.