Firing of teacher after same-sex wedding turns into Miami congressional campaign issue (Politico PRO)

Firing of teacher after same-sex wedding turns into Miami congressional campaign issue

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Richardson said the case underscores the need for federal legislation and the passage of a bill which would ban Florida hotel owners and employers from discriminating against people due to their sexual orientation or gender. | AP Photo

Firing of teacher after same-sex wedding turns into Miami congressional campaign issue

MIAMI — A Miami Catholic school fired a lesbian teacher after she married her partner, drawing attention to a stalled gay-rights bill in the Florida Legislature and marking a new campaign issue in one of the nation’s most competitive Democratic congressional primaries.

The fired first grade teacher, Jocelyn Morffi, couldn’t be reached for comment, but her friends shared her story with local media. Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic School didn’t dispute that Morffi was let go Thursday after her wedding — three days earlier — to partner Natasha Hass.

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Morffi’s dismissal is probably perfectly legal.

“It’s 2018. But you may be surprised to learn that you can be fired from your employment not just because of gay marriage but also because you’re gay,” said state Rep. David Richardson, a Miami Beach Democrat who’s the first openly gay Florida House member and the top fundraiser in the crowded primary for Florida’s 27th Congressional District, where the school is located.

Richardson said the case underscores the need for federal legislation and the passage of FL HB347 (18R), which would ban Florida hotel owners and employers from discriminating against people due to their sexual orientation or gender. But, he said, the GOP-led Legislature has stifled the bill year after year. The legislation hasn’t been heard this year in committee, and, now that the 60-day legislative session is halfway over, there’s likely not enough time to pass it.

Because of the state’s refusal to pass the Competitive Florida Workforce Act, gay-rights advocates are pressuring Amazon to avoid building a headquarters in Miami as well as other cities in states without protections for LGBT people.

Miami-Dade County has a local ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, but there’s an exception for religious institutions, said Tony Lima, executive director of the advocacy group SAVE Dade.

The religious exemption was written into the ordinance in part because of pressure from the Catholic Archdiocese of Miami, where Archbishop Thomas Wenski compared the Supreme Court’s 2015 legalization of same-sex marriage to the Dred Scott decision.

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese, Mary Ross Agosta, said she couldn’t discuss the specifics of Morffi’s employment but noted that employees have to sign a contract pledging they will follow church policy, which includes a prohibition on same-sex marriage.

“This is a Catholic school,” Agosta said. “Parents send their children to a Catholic school because of the church’s teaching, the discipline and the spirituality. This was a well-liked teacher for seven years. But when a contract is broken, it leaves the employer with no other choice.”

Correction: This article has been updated with the correct name of Natasha Hass.

via Politico PRO

February 10, 2018 at 03:48PM

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