Catholic school fires longtime teacher after parents find out she’s in a same-sex marriage

Margie Winters has taught at Waldron Mercy Academy, an elementary school in Merion, Pennsylvania, for eight years. Shortly after she was hired, she informed the principal of the school that she was in a same-sex marriage. She was told that this would not be an issue so long as she didn’t discuss it with her students.

However, as the Philadelphia Inquirer reported earlier today, Winters was fired last week after two parents found out about her marriage. One complained to the school; the other complained to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, with which the school is affiliated. As Winters told the Inquirer, she felt the school was worried its “Catholic identity would be in jeopardy.” For its part, a spokesperson for the archdiocese denied any role in Winters’s firing.

The letter announcing that Winters would no longer teach at the academy didn’t directly specify the reason for her dismissal, but it didn’t have to. While it lauded the good work she had done as a teacher, it reminded school employees that:

In the Mercy spirit, many of us accept life choices that contradict current Church teachings, but to continue as a Catholic school, Waldron Mercy must comply with those teachings.

Catholic facepalm via Shutterstock

Catholic facepalm, via Shutterstock

It’s abundantly clear that Winters was fired for being a lesbian, which is (probably) illegal in Lower Merion Township, where Waldron Mercy Academy is located. The township has an anti-discrimination ordinance on the books that prohibits hiring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. While the ordinance carries a religious exemption, that exemption is voided for religious organizations that receive public funding — which Waldron Mercy Academy does in the form of the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit and the Educational Improvement Tax Credit.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s affirmation of marriage equality, along with a mounting push comprehensive housing and hiring discrimination protections, religious organizations are going to have to choose: They can either give up their tax breaks and public grants, or they can play by the same anti-discriminatory rules that everyone else does.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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  • gratuitous

    So would Waldron Mercy keep a teacher who had divorced? Seems like they put Margie Winters into the situation of either staying married to the person she loves (which seems like a desirable outcome), or getting divorced (which seems less desirable, especially since Ms. Winters is in a good marriage).

    Good thing Waldron Mercy didn’t get too specific, because right now I just strongly suspect them of raging hypocrisy, rather than being fully convinced of their raging hypocrisy.

  • goodmorningladies

    Church and state separation is there to protect religion from government, right?

  • Bill_Perdue

    When that thug comes to the US he should be arrested for complicity in child sex abuse and for being a tool of the former military dictatorship in Argentina. He should be prosecuted and jailed and after he gets out, deported.

    The US should not have diplomatic ties with baby raper cult.

    Tax the roman cult, and all cults, until they’re broke and use the money to fight HIV/AIDS and to compensate their victims. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTTYLQQ9mAI

  • Doris Parkman
  • crazymonkeylady

    The cancer of religion has metastasized and invades every part of life . So sad.

  • Indigo

    One of Jeb’s self-selling points is his eagerness to fund private, religious schools with public funds. I hope we can get that message out to voters because if he gets the nomination and goes up against Hillary, the controversy could become a hinge in a door we don’t want to see opened.

  • Sounds to me like Ms. Winters has a viable civil suit case then.

    On the other hand, we really gotta stop this BS of public funding for self-declared religious institutions. It ought to be patently unconstitutional.

  • Don Chandler

    He’s too busy trying to avert the great flood.

  • Hue-Man

    “…that exemption is voided for religious organizations that receive public funding.”

    Does public funding include property tax exemptions, sales tax exemptions, income tax exemptions?

  • 2karmanot

    Holy cracked-pot Batwoman!

  • Sally

    Won’t say a word about this.

  • Sally

    And no one ever mentions what goes on with all those nuns after dark. I have done a lot of reading about harems, and it seems the girls, once their child-bearing days were past and they were ignored by the King, were consoled by the other older women, and taught to pleasure themselves.

  • Glen Thompson

    Time to tax the hell out of them.

  • 2karmanot

    “In the Mercy spirit, many of us accept life choices that contradict current Church teachings, but to continue as a Catholic school, Waldron Mercy must comply with those teachings.” However the Holy Ghost says pedophilia is historically traditional and in practice quite acceptable.

  • Indigo

    But Pope Francis . . .

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