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Ohio Catholic school fires teacher after name of her same-sex partner reportedly appears in obituary

A female teacher at a Catholic high school in Ohio who was fired after the name of her same-sex partner appeared in her mother’s obituary is reportedly fighting to get her job back.

The Plain Dealer reports that Carla Hale, 57, a longtime physical education teacher at Bishop Watterson High School in Columbus, was informed by the school principal that she was terminated for being in a homosexual relationship — and not for being gay.

"Your written spousal relationship violates the moral laws of the Catholic Church," Bishop Watterson High School Principal Marian Hutson wrote to Hale in a March 28 letter.

The obituary, which appeared in the Columbus Dispatch, listed survivors, including "daughter, Carla (Julie) Hale."

The Catholic Diocese of Columbus was alerted to the obituary by an anonymous letter, the newspaper reports. The author claimed to be "a concerned parent" of one of Hale’s students.

"I was shocked by what I saw,” read a copy of the letter given to The Plain Dealer by Hale’s attorney. “It had her teacher's name and that of her 'spouse' listed. It was two females!"

Hale was informed by the school that she violated a contract between the diocese and a union representing Catholic teachers, specifically a section that indicates teachers can be fired for "immorality." Hale was not available for an interview, the newspaper reports.

“The decision that I made — to acknowledge Julie, my partner, in my mother’s obituary — is not immoral,” Hale said in a statement issued last week through attorney Thomas Tootle.

Columbus diocese officials did not return phone calls seeking comment. Columbus Bishop Frederick Campbell told the Dispatch last week that Hale's firing was necessary to maintain "the integrity of our faith."

"We don't necessarily go looking for things like that, but this was made public," Campbell told the newspaper.

Hale, however, wants her job back. Late last month she filed a grievance through the teachers union, asking to be reinstated.

Hutson, in a handwritten response, reportedly wrote: "You were not terminated for being gay, but for the spousal relationship publicized in the newspaper which is against church teaching."

Click for more from The Plain Dealer.

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