Reverend Donna Simon and Colleen Simon walk with lawyers and friends.
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -
A woman is suing after she said she was fired for being gay, but her former employer – the Catholic Church – is defending the move.
"Like anyone that loses something that they love dearly, I'm heartbroken," said Colleen Simon.
Simon is talking about the job she once had as director of social ministries at St. Francis Xavier Church, located at East 52nd Street and Troost Avenue in Kansas City. It's the same job she's now suing the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph to get back. She says she was fired after a story about positive social change along Troost published in the Kansas City Star publicized her same-sex marriage in the caption to a photo.
Both women work for organizations located on Troost Avenue.
According to Simon, the problem is that the diocese knew about her marriage to the Rev. Donna Simon of St. Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church before she was hired for the position last year. She said her wife even visited the office and attended a fundraiser for the food pantry. Then they later fired her and cited her 2012 wedding ceremony in Iowa as the cause. For her, the lawsuit is deeper than just going back to work and being paid for lost wages.
"My job is, to me, is more than just employment. My job is a calling that I seek to serve God through my faith by caring for those in the margins," Colleen Simon said.
Colleen Simon describes her work at St. Francis as her dream job, a position that required her to run the church's food pantry, which feeds over 70 families in need each month, according to a release by Riptide Communications. Raised a Catholic, and deeply internalizing the church's social justice mission, Colleen Simon says that faith-based social service is her life's calling. Her dedicated work at the pantry increased donations, parishioners, and over-all efficacy.
"God put her in the job and we were so pleased with it. She was able to do work that used all of her gifts, all of her talents," Donna Simon said.
Colleen Simon believes her talents are being pushed aside simply because of who she is and she knows she's not alone.
"There's definitely discrimination that happens in many different religious denominations, unfortunately, so, at this time, I pray for a day that all are welcome and affirmed for who God created them, including myself," she said.
The Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph wouldn't verbally comment on the lawsuit since they haven't seen the filing, but they did release the following statement:
"The Diocese has not seen the filing, so we cannot comment specifically at this time. In general, as a Church we have the right to live and operate according to our faith and Church teachings. We regret this situation has resulted in litigation, however it is our sincere hope that the matter can be resolved amicably. As needed, we will defend our constitutional freedom to practice our faith and uphold the integrity of our mission and public witness."
Colleen Simon had previously been a bookkeeper for the diocese in 2012.
In June, St. Francis Xavier formally announced a replacement for the position from which Colleen Simon was fired.
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