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Arkansas Catholic School Teacher Fired After Marrying Same-Sex Partner

TiTippi McCullough has taught English at Mount St. Mary Academy in Arkansas for the past fifteen years. Unfortunately, her employment was terminated this week after she married her partner of fourteen years, Barb Mariani. As The Arkansas Times reports, earlier this week the couple travelled to New Mexico, where same-sex marriage licenses have been issued as of late, to officially tie the knot. However, only forty-five minutes after their ceremony was complete, McCullough received a phone call from a secretary at Mount St. Mary, "telling her she risked losing her job if she married." The secretary reportedly added, "that the school had learned of the coming marriage through 'the diocese.'" As the couple drove to Arizona (they planned to honeymoon at the Grand Canyon), McCullough spoke with Mt. Saint Mary principal Diane Wolf, who informed her that she no longer had a job at the school:

"She told me she never thought the day would come, that I was a great teacher and that she would give me a glowing recommendation if I resigned," McCullough said. "She said her hands were tied when I signed a legal document."

McCullough said a contract clause allows dismissal for a lifestyle contrary to church teaching. She she asked Wolfe for an explanation of how she'd violated that clause. "She said she wasn't going to get into a theological discussion and there was nothing she could do."

McCullough will get 30 days severance pay and an opportunity to pick up her things and arrange for COBRA continuing health insurance coverage. She said she's not sure what her vocational future holds. She said she'd been encouraged by support from other teachers. She said, too, that she was sure Wolfe knew of her long relationship with Mariani.  They never discussed it explicitly, she said, but "she knew." In their discussion yesterday, "I told her I thought it was unfair, that I was being singled out for being gay." She said Wolfe told her the nun who once headed the school had once escorted out an unmarried pregnant teacher.

HRC President Chad Griffin, an Arkansas native, blasted the school's decision:

"To fire a beloved teacher simply because she is gay is morally reprehensible...At a moment when Pope Francis is urging the Catholic hierarchy to put aside judgment and a decades-long campaign targeting devoted LGBT Catholics, it’s shameful that this school is ignoring that hopeful message in favor of explicit and baseless discrimination."

The HRC has started a petition to show opposition to Mount St. Mary Academy's decision to fire McCullough. You can sign it HERE.

(Photo via Facebook)

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  1. This story was confusing. I couldn't understand why they would care that she got married to a man. Then I thought "Bob" was short for Roberta. But then I read the source article and discovered that her partner's name is actually Barb not Bob. Odd typo to make in that it negates the point of the article. Oh well, sh!t happens.

    Posted by: Macguffin54 | Oct 20, 2013 2:09:35 PM

  2. thanks for clearing that up Macguffins. Bob vs Barb

    Posted by: 604brian | Oct 20, 2013 2:19:20 PM

  3. I'm so going to enjoy watching this turn into a lawsuit. I've been waiting for the catholic cult to be drawn & quartered for many years...ever since I finished 12 years of catholic school and encountered more twisted gay priests & brothers than you can imagine. Fondling, hugging, touching...just being a good catholic. Who are they to judge anyone?

    Posted by: Paul B. | Oct 20, 2013 2:21:05 PM

  4. I understand this may have been her only job option, but why are we working for organizations that hate us?

    Posted by: Brian in Texas | Oct 20, 2013 2:24:25 PM

  5. Slam 'em with a lawsuit, and slam 'em hard! Roman Catholicism should become a more expensive religion to support. When you've got 'em by the balls, their hearts and minds will soon follow!

    Posted by: Jerry | Oct 20, 2013 2:35:15 PM

  6. I hate to say it, but I doubt she has any basis for a lawsuit. A private school doesn't have to follow the same rules for hiring and firing, although she might make a case if other legally married gay people were retained and she was fired.

    But she's in Arkansas, and ANYONE can fire a gay person just for being gay, with no legal repercussions. The public schools, or K-mart, or Bob's grocery could fire her and tell her to her face it's because she's gay, and there's not a damn thing she can do.

    That's why we need ENDA at the federal level. Because places like Arkansas aren't going to change it on their own any time soon. I'd have to check current laws, but as of last year, it was legal to fire someone simply for being gay in 29 US states.

    Posted by: Lymis | Oct 20, 2013 2:54:59 PM

  7. I'm guessing you're right Lymis. However, some things that are currently legal...are up for a challenge in the courts. Winning would be nice but bringing the whole thing into the light of day and exposing the church for what it is...that's the real prize!

    Posted by: Paul B. | Oct 20, 2013 3:02:21 PM

  8. She signed a contract. I don't see any way out of that.

    Posted by: Mike in the tundra | Oct 20, 2013 3:14:26 PM

  9. When you work for a morally bankrupt organization, why are you surprised when they act in morally bankrupt ways?

    Posted by: peterparker | Oct 20, 2013 3:30:12 PM

  10. @ LYMIS :

    I absolutely agree....ENDA is the way to go.

    The Catholic Church has made us its enemy.
    I watched " How to Survive a Plague" again last night ( my Sat. nights are not what they used to be !) and it was made perfectly clear by Bishop O'Connor of NY that we should all be exterminated by the disease.
    The Church was militantly against us back then and opposed condoms, as it still does.

    Nothing has changed in the Catholic Church:"\ " - no gay teachers; no condoms, let them get sick; no communion, they are all excommunicated; they are all "intrinsically defective"........hence we need not treat them with respect.
    Our line about loving the sinner, hating the sin.....well, we had to say something....and that was a sound bite."

    Yeah, as Holden Caulfield said : "Old Jesus would just puke."

    The Catholic has made us its enemy; let us have some stomach for the fight.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Oct 20, 2013 3:41:32 PM

  11. What did you expect? It's a Catholic School. If she was working in a state school, she'd have a case but a private establishment whose beliefs go contrary to homosexuality can fire her. She must have known this would happen if found out.
    Do I agree with it? No, but one has to respect different beliefs if we don't want to be accused of intolerance of religious beliefs.

    Posted by: Sara | Oct 20, 2013 3:51:51 PM

  12. That's what happens when you work for a hate group -- they tend to hate you.

    Posted by: Roscoe | Oct 20, 2013 3:57:29 PM

  13. She wasn't fired because she is gay but because she married someone of the same sex. Although some may think it is the same thing, it isn't. I'm sure she knew the Church's position on same sex marriage.

    Posted by: Rose | Oct 20, 2013 4:00:35 PM

  14. Ah, Arkansas! Time was, when she could have been fired for marrying a black man. Probably still can.

    Posted by: Leroy Laflamme | Oct 20, 2013 4:28:54 PM

  15. What is the surprise here? US law is already established on this topic. Religious bigots get to decide who a preacher is, and they've decided that teachers are preachers. She should be fired.

    That said, I also think religious belief should be treated like all other belief, instead of getting special privileges, and such groups should be subject to civil rights laws. But that's not the law yet.

    Posted by: Randy | Oct 20, 2013 5:33:54 PM

  16. She knew this would happen. She has no case.

    Posted by: Paul R | Oct 20, 2013 5:48:20 PM

  17. If all the G & L teachers, coaches, priests, nuns and musicians who work for the church would come out, the church would be forced to either change some policies or shut down.

    Posted by: Clayton | Oct 20, 2013 6:47:12 PM

  18. "She said Wolfe told her the nun who once headed the school had once escorted out an unmarried pregnant teacher."

    Perhaps the nun would have been more comfortable if the teacher she fired for being pregnant had an abortion instead of being unmarried and choosing to have the baby. It's twisted Catholic logic.

    Posted by: Joe in Ct | Oct 20, 2013 8:00:54 PM

  19. Every time they do this they alienate more teens in Catholic high schools, the great majority of whom are in favor of gay marriage.
    Those students won't forget injustices like this as they grow older, and the majority will have a lower opinion of the catholic church because of this.
    Good goin', Mt. Saint Mary's...

    Posted by: woody | Oct 20, 2013 9:22:11 PM

  20. Legally, she probably doesn't have a case, but her situation points to how increasingly backwards Catholic schools will seem to the current and next generations who have no problem with a gay teacher marrying and will find it really bizarre--as it is--that their school thinks it's ok to be a DADT closet case but not ok to have an open and committed relationship. It won't square with the changed times even if they're legally entitled to discriminate.

    BTW, the beliefs aren't worthy of respect, as Sara suggests. They are warped. But if you're gay and go to work for an employer who is legally allowed to discriminate, educate yourself and go in with open eyes.

    Posted by: Ernie | Oct 21, 2013 5:05:34 AM

  21. OK for her to live in sin with her partner, but get married? Welcome to the upside-down Bizarro world.

    Posted by: Jack M | Oct 21, 2013 8:05:34 AM

  22. The Catholic Church from the top down is a corrupted business organization.They have always been on the wrong side of history. They'll keep quit on their history of overlooking priest who are pedophile, and then transfer them to another Parish to continue molesting Children... but fire a good teacher of 15 years for loving someone is pure B.S.! It's time to break up the Catholic Church here in America and around the world.

    Posted by: Jerry Pritikin aka The Bleacher Preacher | Oct 21, 2013 8:22:38 AM

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