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Settlement between Missouri diocese, parish employee fired after same-sex marriage

February 23, 2016

The Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph has agreed to an undisclosed settlement with a woman who was dismissed from her position as her parish’s coordinator of social ministry after her civil marriage to a female Lutheran minister became a matter of public knowledge.

The settlement was related to peripheral claims (such as overtime pay) that did not touch upon Catholic teaching on marriage.

Colleen Simon said that she told both the current and former pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church, a Jesuit parish in Kansas City, that she was a party to a same-sex marriage, and neither objected.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, which assisted the diocese, claimed victory after a state judge refused to consider one of Simon’s fraud claims.

“For the Court to inquire into the knowing falsity of the Diocesan agents’ ... representations to Plaintiff about her sexual orientation relative to her position in the Diocese would impermissibly entangle the Court in matters and decisions purely canonical, since the Court must necessarily examine the religious views and practices of the Diocese in an attempt to perceive the reasonableness of Plaintiff’s reliance on the Diocese’s representations,” Judge Kenneth Garrett III ruled.

The judge, however, permitted Simon to pursue claims against the diocese related to overtime pay and the issuance of a severance letter—leading to the settlement between the parties.


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