Lesbian teacher says fired by Detroit Catholic school over pregnancy

Michigan firing latest in series of controversial dismissals of gay staff at Catholic schools
By Aaron Foley
|employmentlawtoday.com|Last Updated: 09/10/2014

DETROIT (Reuters) — A Detroit-area teacher says she was fired from her post at a private Catholic all-girls high school after she and her lesbian partner announced they were expecting a child through non-traditional means.

Hundreds of supporters for Barb Webb, a teacher at Marian High School in suburban Bloomfield Hills, rallied on Sunday at the school after she posted on Facebook that she had been forced from her job after she become pregnant "outside the Catholic way."

Webb said she was asked late last month to choose between resigning or being fired, but decided against leaving voluntarily although she said the school had offered healthcare for the remainder of the school year had she chosen to resign. She was 14 weeks pregnant at the time.

"I feel sickened for my colleagues who are disgusted with this decision but are forced into silence for fear for their own jobs," Webb wrote on her Facebook page in which she detailed her firing, the latest in a string of such actions involving gay and lesbian employees at U.S. Catholic schools in recent years.

School officials could not immediately be reached on Sunday for comment about the firing, which comes as legal decisions favoring gay marriage continue to mount in the United States.

Nearly 30 state and federal courts have ruled against same-sex marriage bans since last year's U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman.

A U.S. court of appeals is due to rule on same-sex marriage bans in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee this month.

A Facebook group in support of the teacher, "I Stand With Barb Webb," grew to more than 3,200 members shortly after its inception last week when Webb's post went viral. Current and former students and parents have urged the school to reverse its decision.

In another case involving a gay school official, a suburban Seattle Catholic school official was fired in December for violating religious doctrine by marrying his same-sex partner. He has since sued for wrongful dismissal.

Last year in California, a Catholic school teacher was fired after marrying his male partner, and a Catholic teacher in Pennsylvania told media outlets he was also fired after he applied for a marriage license with his same-sex partner.

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