Administrator Affirms Anti-Lesbian Firing, As Support Continues to Grow for Carla Hale

Carla Hale

Ohio’s Columbus Catholic schools office upheld a decision last week to fire teacher Carla Hale, whose same-gender partner became public in her mother’s obituary earlier this year. This most recent act comes after the Catholic teachers’ union refused to back Hale, but grassroots support grows as friends, family, and supporters nationwide speak out.

Superintendent Lucia McQuaide sent Hale a letter reaffirming the discriminatory firing, the contents of which were reported on by LGBTQ Nation. The “40-word, one paragraph letter” simply upheld the high school’s firing without acknowledging the surrounding controversy and was released by Hale’s lawyer to the media.

That lawyer, Thomas Tooley, called the superintendent’s letter just another step as Hale’s firing moves along in the legal system. Although LGBT employees are not protected under federal or state law, the City of Columbus does include a non-discrimination law for them and Hale has filed a complaint with the Community Relations Commission.

Hale’s daughter and partner spoke to The Columbus Dispatch, offering hope-filled words that justice will win out for this 19-year veteran educator:

“[Daughter Courtney] Hale said she and her two older brothers, along with the rest of their blended family, are standing behind their mom…

“ ‘I think it’s important for the public to see all of the support that she’s getting…hopefully, a change will come about with this, even if it’s not somebody changing their mind, just becoming more accepting and understanding.”

“[Hale’s] partner, Julie Uncapher, said she, too, hopes Hale’s fight brings about change — in Catholic-school contracts, for students and for other teachers in a similar situation. She said the Catholic school should ‘be able to open up, to accept and love thy neighbor like they state.’ “

Carla Hale with daughter, Courtney, and partner, Julie

With more than 130,00 signatures on the Change.org petition and an active #HaleStormOhio campaign, Hale has supporters outside Columbus too. One alum from Bishop Watterson High School wrote in to The New York Times that he mailed back his diploma over Hale’s firing.

His letter was a response to Frank Bruni’s column in The New York Times that speaks to the crux of this matter:

“No one at the Catholic high school that fired Carla Hale in March claimed that she was anything less than a terrific physical education teacher and coach, devoted to the kids and adored by many of them…

“And at a kitchen table here in central Ohio, a typically cheerful woman dabbed her eyes and wondered aloud what she’d done wrong.

“The answer is in one sense simple: she made a life with another woman.”

Meanwhile, The Columbus Dispatch also reported that an Ohio labor group is calling for the Columbus bishop to dialogue about work issues:

“The AFL-CIO in central Ohio has partnered with a grass-roots advocacy group to ask the Roman Catholic bishop of Columbus to participate in a panel discussion on the rights of gay people in workplaces, specifically faith-based workplaces.

“The union organization’s Pride @ Work Ohio constituency group and #halestormOhio made the request to Bishop Frederick Campbell yesterday in response to the Columbus diocese’s refusal to reinstate Carla Hale, a lesbian teacher who was fired from Bishop Watterson High School in Clintonville.”

The diocesan spokesperson said he had not seen the invitation, and was non-committal about a possible response from the bishop.

Developments in the case of Carla Hale case are more interesting now that an Ohio court rewarded a lesbian teacher fired in Cincinnati $170,000 for being unjustly fired from a Catholic high school there. Experts already speculated that Hale’s case would raise many questions about Church and State relations around employees. Closer to home, the Diocese of Columbus is in another controversy after asking a local politician to skip his commencement address at a local graduation because of his public support for marriage equality.

To read more about Bondings 2.0 reporting on Carla Hale, see the links below:

May 20, 2013: Ohio Catholic Teachers’ Union Denies Support to Fired Lesbian Woman

May 8, 2013: Carla Hale’s Firing Raises Questions of Law and Church Policy

April 26, 2013: In the Wake of Discrimination, Carla Hale Hopes Students See Love and Support

April 24, 2013: Fired Lesbian Teacher Offers Hope Through Vulnerability

April 22, 2013: Support for Fired Lesbian Teacher Grows Rapidly As She Speaks Out

April 17, 2013: Lesbian Teacher Fired For Listing Her Partner’s Name In Her Mother’s Obituary

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

6 replies
  1. duckman44625
    duckman44625 says:

    It would not be rational to expect the Catholic Church to “do the right thing” in this or similar case. This teacher of physical education for 19 plus years did support Catholic teaching – not directly in her classroom (the gym) as a religious instructor but by her silence in being non-critical of Catholic teaching. Further, she is a Methodist and would not be expected to directly instruct pupils in a religion not her own. She was highly regarded as a Physical Education teacher – never chastised for being less. So, the issue of being a gay partnered woman was inadvertently discovered through her mother’s obituary – providing the fodder for a very hateful parishioner who was “outraged” – I prefer to label her as a Pharisee – a bigot. I will pray for Carla to be supported in her courageous decision to legally challenge this unchristian policy of the Catholic educational system in the name of others who will face (and have faced) similar discrimination. Compared to the way hundreds lack of discipline leveled against of pedophile priests and the bishops who hid them, Carla faces a most extreme punishment for being true to herself. Shame on the Ohio Church Diocese !

    Reply
  2. Rachel Fitzgerald
    Rachel Fitzgerald says:

    I spent days on this in the NCR blog. There is so much wrong one hardly knows where to start! But one thought I have not yet expressed but welcome this opportunity to do so: nothing gets me like dishonoring burial rites… the good old prayer has it, we pray for everyone “…now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
    No matter our petty and huge sins, we do not commit the sacrilege of dishonoring the dead and we still pray that there is a purgatorial hope for their eternal lives…. and obits and their readers are one of the few ways our society still honors the dead and wishes them and the grieving family consolation and heaven itself.
    ALL of my Irish temper & lather seethes, so sorry, but I really needed to say this. Now I have to go pray for those who did this.

    Reply
  3. duckman44625
    duckman44625 says:

    If there is a “greater” sin in this unfortunate injustice – it has been committed by the hateful homophobic parishioner who was so outraged that reported Carla’s partnership to the parish pastor for “corrective” action. One merely needs to recall the woman caught in adultery – the challenge of Jesus to let the person who is without sin cast the first stone – to know how he feels about this informant. I don’t believe in purgatory and firmly believe in St. Therese of Lisieux’s words before the Inquisition: Just as I can not appreciate light without knowing darkness, nor good without knowing evil, therefore since I believe there is a heaven, I must believe in hell…but as Jesus has revealed through Himself that Our Heavenly Father is all merciful, unconditionally loving…I really don’t believe any person is in hell.

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Responding to the firing of educator Carla Hale this spring for marrying her wife, one set of Catholic parents began wondering about a Catholic […]

  2. […] High School parents. The ensuing controversy saw a Change.org petition gain 130,000 signatures in support of Hale, along with legal action and a social media campaign #halestorm. It also raised questions about […]

  3. […] case proceeded peacefully, unlike the recent harsh firings of LGBT Catholic school educators like Carla Hale, Christa Dias, Tim Nelson, and Mark Krolikowski, the case still highlights the dilemma that LGBT […]

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