Alumnae of an all-girls Catholic school in St. Louis are rallying in support of two lesbian faculty members who were fired after the school obtained a copy of a mortgage application the couple filed, hoping to move into their new home.
That application indicated the couple's intention to live together outside of a heterosexual marriage, which the school said violates Catholic doctrine, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Employees are required to sign a contract that pledges they will not publicly oppose Catholic teachings.
In July, officials at Cor Jesu Academy in St. Louis received a copy of a mortgage application from Olivia Reichert and Christina Gambaro, prompting school officials to ask the couple to resign, reports the Dispatch. The women reportedly both served as teachers and coaches of lacrosse and other sports, and married in New York this summer, according to the Dispatch.
"We understand that, as a Catholic institution, Cor Jesu has an obligation to ensure that its employees serve as Christian role models," Reichert told the Dispatch via email. "However, because they do not enforce the witness statement in any other way, this is a blatant case of discrimination."
Alumnae upset by the school's decision have taken to Facebook and the media to voice their frustration, and on Friday, organized a protest outside the school, attended by roughly 50 people, according to the Facebook event page for "'Sharing Our Love' at Cor Jesu Academy".
"During the past few days, many students have expressed fear, betrayal, disappointment, anger and sadness," Ed Reggi, organizer of Friday's rally, told the Dispatch. "We must stand outside their school’s walls to remind the current students that being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is OK."
The Cor Jesu controversy follows closely on the heels of a lesbian teacher's firing at a Catholic high school in Michigan, where she says she was fired after informing administrators that she and her wife were expecting their first child.
As the Human Rights Campaign notes,
"There is a sad and troubling narrative of increasing discrimination by Catholic institutions against LGBT Americans, including and especially those who legally marry or come out," said Lisbeth Melendez Rivera, director of Latino/a and Catholic Initiatives at the HRC Foundation in a press release. "These discriminatory actions extend from Oakland to Kansas City to Cincinnati, from Chicago to Atlanta, and are occurring with alarming frequency."