The Archdiocese of Indianapolis on Wednesday defended its decision not to renew the contract of a school employee who publicly defended the same-sex marriages of two former colleagues.
Kelley Fisher, who had worked as a social worker at Roncalli High School for 15 years, lost her job last spring after she publicly defended guidance counselors Shelly Fitzgerald and Lynn Starkey, two former guidance counselors who were both dismissed last academic year for being in same-sex marriages, the Indianapolis Star reported.
Fisher, who has said she identifies as straight, was an employee of Catholic Charities of Indianapolis, an entity that is also overseen by the Archdiocese. Fisher was contracted as a social worker by the school through Catholic Charities and reportedly received multiple warnings from the school before her contract was not renewed.
In a statement made following the filing of Fisher’s complaint and provided to CNA, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis defended its decision to not renew Fisher’s contract.
“If a school’s leaders reject core aspects of the Catholic faith, it undermines the school’s ability to accomplish its mission,” the Archdiocese stated. “Because of that, the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized that religious schools have a constitutional right to hire leaders who support the schools’ religious mission.”
The statement added that parents rely on the Archdiocese to ensure that their students are receiving an authentically Catholic education.
“Many families in our community have sacrificed so their children can attend schools where they will learn the Catholic faith. They rely on the Archdiocese to uphold the fullness of Catholic teaching throughout its schools, and the Constitution fully protects the Church’s efforts to do so,” the Archdiocese said.
Fisher filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Roncalli and the Archdiocese, both of which are also facing a recently filed federal lawsuit from Fitzgerald, who claimed her firing was discriminatory in nature.
Fitzgerald entered a civil same-sex marriage in 2014. According to the Indianapolis Star, after her civil marriage was brought to the school’s attention, Fitzgerald was asked to resign of her own accord, dissolve the civil marriage, or to maintain discretion about the situation until her contract expired. She refused these options and was placed on administrative leave at the beginning of the last school year, and remained on leave until her employment contract expired.
David Page, Fitzgerald’s lawyer, argued in the lawsuit that his client was treated differently than heterosexual employees who have disobeyed other Catholic teachings.
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