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Catholic Teachers Union Will Not Support Fired Gay Teacher

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Monday, May 13, 2013 at 4:00 PM

Carla Hale and her lawyer, Tom Tootle, announcing that her union will not support her request to get her job back.

Carla Hale, the gay teacher recently fired from a Columbus-area Catholic school, does not have her union's support in her efforts to get her job back.

Hale was initially fired from Bishop Watterson High School after naming her girlfriend in an obituary for her mother.

Hale argues she was fired for being gay. The Catholic church has maintained that she was fired for revealing a "quasi-spousal relationship" outside of marriage.

Our colleagues at WOSU report the Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators said it will not support Hale in her efforts to get her job back:

In a letter from the teachers’ union Hale provided to WOSU, union President Kathleen Mahoney stated, “[the union's] decision should not be interpreted as reflecting unfavorably upon Ms. Hale as a person or as an educator.”

Hale had taught at the Catholic school for 19 years, and says they were the best times of her career.

In many Catholic schools, including Bishop Watterson, teachers have to sign agreements that they will abide by the tenets of the Catholic church. Violating those tenets can be cause for termination, and has led to lawsuits elsewhere in the state.

Hale's lawyer, Tom Tootle, argues that clause could be used for just about anyone.

"We have great respect for the separation of church and state but where do you draw the line?" Tootle says. "Does the electrician that comes in to fix [something in the school] have to abide? Does the school nurse not use contraception?"

Hale's next step is to appeal to the school's superintendent.

Hale has also filed a complaint about her firing with the Columbus Community Relations Commission, citing a city ordinance that makes it a misdemeanor for employers to discriminate based on sexual orientation.

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