Catholic school staffer in Montgomery County apparently fired for same-sex marriage

LOWER MERION TWP., Pa. (WPVI) -- A staff member at a Catholic school in Montgomery County is without a job after she was apparently fired for her same-sex marriage.

Margie Winters is a longtime educator, who never hid the fact that she married her partner in 2007.

"The first and primary thought is, 'How do we support Margie, because she is a beloved person in the community,'" said Maureen Kenney, parent.

Kenney's two daughters Moira and Siobhan have attended Waldron Mercy Academy since pre-school.

Winters is the religious education director.

More than 100 people, including parents, alumni and some students, met at Jack's Firehouse in Fairmount on Wednesday night.

Winters walked inside the closed door meeting with her wife, surrounded by supporters.

According to organizer Nancy Houston, Winters led the group in prayer.

"Margie spoke, she received a standing ovation of support. It was very emotional. Several people share their stories, their stories of Margie and how much we love our community," said Houston.

The school's principal released a letter this week alluding to Winters' marriage to a woman as a conflict.

The letter said in part, "Our school recognizes the authority of the Archbishop of Philadelphia, especially in the teacher of religion continue as a Catholic school, Waldron Mercy must comply with those teachings."

But on Wednesday, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia said Waldron is a private Catholic school and personnel decisions are made without the oversight of the Archdiocese.

State Senators Daylin Leach, a Montgomery County democrat and prime sponsor of the Pennsylvania Senate's Marriage Equality Bill, responded.

He said Waldron Academy receives state funding and that might override the religious exemption of the township ordinance.

"The ordinance says you cannot take state money and discriminate if you're a religious institution," said Leach.

According to the school's website, the school received $270,000 from the state's Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program.

Seventy students enrolled at the school also receive help from a state program.

There were no members of the school board present at Wednesday night's meeting.

Organizers say this is only the beginning as they will continue to work to get Winters her job back.
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