Gay Firing Adds to Calls to Increase Fire Assessment

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A gay teacher fired in Miami is now being used as a reason to increase the fire assessment fee paid by non-profits in Wilton Manors.

Recently Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School fired first-grade teacher Jocelyn Morffi after she married her same-sex partner, which is prohibited by the school. The school is operated by the Archdiocese, which also operates St. Clement’s Catholic Church in Wilton Manors.

Meanwhile the city of Wilton Manors gives non-profits a steep discount on their fire assessment fees. Up until 2015 they paid nothing.

Sal Torre, president of the Westside Association of Wilton Manors, brought up Morffi’s firing to the commission during its Feb. 13 meeting. Torre said it was unfair for gay and lesbian taxpayers to “foot the bill” for the Archdiocese’s fire assessment while that organization was able to fire teachers for being gay.

“This weekend I married the love of my life and unfortunately I was terminated from my job as a result. In their eyes I'm not the right kind of Catholic for my choice in partner,” wrote Morffi on social media.

According to the Herald, the Archdiocese stated that 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. 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,” stated Archdiocese spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta in the Herald article.

The Herald also reported that some parents defended Morffi and demanded she be reinstated.

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.’”

The fire assessment fee is levied against property owners to pay for the city’s fire services. For years, non-profits were exempt from the fee. But that changed in 2015 when the commission approved charging non-profits 20 percent of their assessed fire fee. That percentage may go up in the 2018/2019 city budget.

“We have said the fire assessment is something that will change. We gave them a break on the fire assessment. So, let’s make that break smaller,” said Commissioner Tom Green.


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