A woman who lost her job at a Catholic school because of her same-sex marriage will join in a protest Sunday in Louisville, Ky.
Allison King, formerly a counselor at Holy Spirit School and other Catholic schools in Louisville, will be part of the annual Catholics for Fairness Pilgrimage to the Cathedral of the Assumption in Louisville, organized by the Fairness Campaign, Kentucky’s statewide LGBTQ group.
King told her story in an article published Thursday in Louisville’s Courier-Journal. “Last May, my 11-year school counseling career with the Archdiocese of Louisville was forcibly ended because I admitted to being married to my same-sex partner of 15 years,” she wrote. “I tried to walk away gracefully, but 10 months later, the hurt caused by the assault on my character and integrity is still fresh. I’m a product of Catholic high school and my positive experience as a student was one reason I sought employment in Catholic schools. I wanted to work with kids and be a role model for them as my teachers were for me.”
She was called in by Holy Spirit’s principal and parish priest, who told her they had heard that she had introduced her wife to students (she had not, but apparently a parent had made the allegation). They asked if she was indeed married to a woman, and when she said she was, “they told me I could either resign or be terminated because I was in violation of the Archdiocese’s Christian Witness Policy, which everyone working for Archdiocesan agencies, parishes and schools must sign,” she wrote.
“Interestingly, it came into existence in 2016, a year after same-sex marriage became legal. Since it clarifies that not living according to Catholic teachings can be cause for termination, it effectively makes the forfeiture of the federal right to marry a condition of employment for LGBTQ staff.”
She had signed the policy in 2016 and 2017, although she “agonized” over it, she said. She had stayed closeted at work, offering her colleagues only “vague, genderless details” about her personal life. School administrators, she noted, ignored the fact that many other employees violated Catholic doctrine by using contraceptives or living with a romantic partner outside of marriage. She never thought the archdiocese would delve so deeply into her private life, she said.
“The church’s official position is that it doesn’t condone aggression of any kind toward homosexual people,” she added. “Is it not aggression to fire LGBTQ staff for wanting the same civil liberties as their heterosexual counterparts, thereby shaming and shunning them?”
Participants in the Catholics for Fairness Pilgrimage will gather at 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Volunteers of America Mid-States and hear speeches from King, former State Rep. Jim Wayne, and Father Joseph Fowler before making a peaceful pilgrimage to the cathedral, according to the Fairness Campaign. Many participants will attend 5:30 p.m. Mass as a group.
The pilgrimage is part of a movement that has gone on for nearly a decade, with local Catholics and their allies have calling on Archbishop Joseph Kurtz and the Archdiocese of Louisville to endorse a statewide LGBTQ-inclusive discrimination law and embrace LGBTQ people and their families. He has instead been a staunch opponent of LGBTQ rights.