MIAMI – A gay schoolteacher has been fired by a Miami Catholic school after marrying her same-sex partner in an apparent violation of church rules, church officials said.
Archdiocese of Miami officials confirmed to the Miami Herald that first-grade teacher Jocelyn Morffi lost her job at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School on Thursday, the day after she returned from her Florida Keys wedding.
"This weekend I married the love of my life and unfortunately I was terminated from my job as a result," Morffi said in a post on social media. "In their eyes I'm not the right kind of Catholic for my choice in partner."
Several parents say they were surprised and upset at Morffi's firing, which they learned of in a letter from the school Thursday evening. About 20 parents went to the school Friday morning to demand an explanation.
"We were extremely livid. They treated her like a criminal and they didn't even let her get her things out of her classroom," said Cintia Cini, the parent of one of the children in Morffi's class.
Cini told the newspaper the parents didn't know Morffi was gay, but they didn't care about her sexual orientation.
"Our only concern was the way she was with our children, the way she taught our children and this woman by far was one of the best teachers out there," Cini said.
She said the principal spoke to each of the parents but did not give a reason for the firing.
The school didn't respond to a request for comment, but archdiocese spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta confirmed Morffi broke her contract under church rules of conduct.
"As a teacher in a Catholic school their responsibility is partly for the spiritual growth of the children," Agosta said. "One has to understand that in any corporation, institution or organization there are policies and procedures and teachings and traditions that are adhered to. If something along the way does not continue to stay within that contract, then we have no other choice."
Morffi worked for the school for almost seven years. She also coached basketball and ran a volunteer organization called #teachHope70x70 that takes students around downtown Miami on weekends to distribute meals to the homeless, said Morffi's friend, Katerina Reyes-Gutierrez.
Samantha Mills, whose child was in Morffi's class last year, told the Herald that many parents continue to be outraged. "This teacher in particular has made such a contribution to the school. She never imposes her personal beliefs on others. She just does everything in love. She has a way of teaching that is so amazing."
Same-sex marriage was legalized in Florida by a 2015 judicial ruling. Florida doesn't have a statewide law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. A Miami-Dade County ordinance that protects LGBT residents from discrimination exempts religious institutions from certain provisions.