Mass. Catholic H.S. Dean, Athletic Director Loses Job Over Gay Marriage
An instructor at a Massachusetts Catholic School has lost her job following her wedding to her female life partner.
Christine M. Judd was the dean of students at Cathedral High School in Springfield, Mass., and also served as athletic director. The fact that she was a lesbain was not an issue--until Judd and her female partner availed themselves of Massachusetts state law and entered into civil marriage.
At that point, Judd told local newspaper The Republican in a Sept. 2 article, "I was given a choice of termination or resignation." Added Judd, "I’m hurt, but I wish nothing but the best for Cathedral, its students, the parents, the athletic teams, administration and faculty."
Judd’s twelve years of service with the school--which was steadily augmented as more responsibilities were given her over time--were not enough to counter the fact that she entered into legal marriage with another woman over the summer, the article suggested. "I was hoping that my loyalty, my professionalism the last 12 years would supersede the current hypocrisy that has already been shown with the Diocese of Springfield," said Judd, going on to clarify that she may have been treated differently than others whose private lives are not in strict accordance with the church’s teachings: employees that have divorced, for example, or who practice birth control.
A spokesperson for the Springfield diocese told the newspaper that he could not comment on the case, as it is "an employment matter," the article said.
The loss of Judd’s job prompted MassLive columnist Scott Coen to pen a Sept. 3 op-ed in which Coen described "feeling sick to my stomach" at the news.
"What have we become to disapprove of two people getting married?" wrote Coen. "That even if we disapprove of their marriage, we somehow feel it’s going to undermine what we stand for.
"And just what does this say about what the Springfield Diocese is teaching in its schools," Coen added. "This is text book discrimination in the name of religion. You cannot tell the children who attend Cathedral that it’s all right to fire someone because their sexual orientation is quote, ’in contradiction to the values we believe in’."
Coen questioned whether Judd having lost her job for doing something that is perfectly legal can be excused on the basis of that same action being in violation of the church’s rules. Coen also framed the incident against the mores of the day, writing, "One simple ounce of tact and finesse could have avoided making Christine Judd a news headline, and the local Roman Catholic leadership a punch line." Added Coen, "Christine Judd may have lost her job, but the Diocese continues to lose [the] respect [of the general public]."
Cathedral High School’s reportedly having given Judd the choice of either leaving or being fired comes several months after another Catholic school in Massachusetts refused to admit a child because his parents were both women. Rev. James Rafferty of St. Paul Elementary School, located in Hingham, Mass., barred the would-be pupil from enrollment, saying that his mother’s relationship with another woman left the family in "discord" with the church, the Associated Press reported last May 20.
An archdiocese official later contacted the women to offer assistance in getting the child admitted to a different Catholic school, the article said. Cardinal Sean O’Malley, an outspoken opponent of legal recognition for gay and lesbian families, said that Rafferty had endured "undue criticism" for having denied the boy a place at the school. "He made a decision about the admission of the child to St. Paul School based on his pastoral concern for the child," O’Malley commented at his blog at the time. "I can attest personally that Father Rafferty would never exclude a child to sanction the child’s parents."
Added O’Malley, "It is true that we welcome people from all walks of life. But we recognize that, regardless of the circumstances involved, we maintain our responsibility to teach the truths of our faith, including those concerning sexual morality and marriage." O’Malley claimed that the children of gays were not sweepingly excluded from admission to Catholic schools, writing at his blog that, "Catholic schools exist for the good of the children and our admission standards must reflect that. "We have never had categories of people who were excluded."
Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.