Colleen Simon is suing the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph for firing her from her parish food pantry job after learning of her marriage to another woman.


Simon, 57, joins a growing number of fights nationwide between Roman Catholic leaders and their employees over LGBT rights.


“I was mostly shell-shocked,” Simon told the Associated Press, maintaining that the parish where she worked was well aware she was married and that her wife was a well-known community leader prior to Simon being hired. “I hadn’t thought it would come to this.”


Simon was fired when the couple was mentioned this past spring in a newspaper article.


“As a church, we have the right to live and operate according to our faith and church teachings,” diocesan officials said in a statement to the AP.


Simon’s lawsuit was filed in Missouri on Thursday. In it she states that she worked as a parish bookkeeper in the diocese before she was hired in 2013 as a food pantry coordinator at St. Francis Xavier Church.


She further states that throughout the hiring process, she made administrators aware that she had married a woman a year earlier in Iowa, where same-sex marriage is recognized. Simon even made sure that the church was clear that her wife, Donna, was a public figure – a pastor at a Kansas City congregation affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church. in America. According to Simon, diocesan and parish representatives said the nuptials would not pose a problem.


According to Simon, a new priest was assigned to the church, and she told him that she was in a same-sex marriage. All seemed fine. But everything changed once the Simons were mentioned in the newspaper article about the redevelopment of their neighborhood, along with a photo of Colleen Simon working at the food pantry.


Simon states she was then told by the priest that he had to fire her over the article. According to the AP, a dismissal letter sent last month from the diocese human resources director says she was fired because of the “irreconcilable conflict between the laws, discipline and teaching of the Catholic Church, and your relationship – formalized by an act of marriage in Iowa – to a person of the same sex.”



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