Colleen Simon was fired from her job at the St. Francis Xavier Church food pantry because she’s gay. Now she’s filing suit against the Kansas City-St. Joseph Roman Catholic diocese and its bishop, saying that she had been told upon getting hired that her being a lesbian “would be no problem.”
Simon took the job of director of social ministries last year, at which time she informed priests outright that she was gay. This May, though, a local publication mentioned that she was married to a woman, and she was fired on the spot. She’s seeking unpaid wages and fringe benefits, compensation for emotional distress, punitive damages and attorney fees.
“While I feel betrayed by the unjust action of the diocese, it is still my greatest desire to return to my position and to serve the parishioners and those at the margins in the surrounding community,” Simon said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit. She said she believes the church hired her under false pretenses; if priests had told her that her sexual orientation would be an issue, she would not have taken the job. She added that as a cancer survivor, she is in grave need of health insurance.
The diocese declined comment on the specifics of the suit, but issued a statement saying, “As needed, we will defend our constitutional freedom to practice our faith and uphold the integrity of our mission and public witness.”
Upholding your “constitutional freedom” to spread bigotry and intolerance is a greater priority than respecting a member of your congregation who dedicates her life to helping the underserved. Riiight.