(WM) A music director at a Catholic church in suburban Detroit said she was fired for being in a same-sex marriage.
Terry Gonda said she received a June 12 email that read, “The Archdiocese is choosing to activate its morality clause to terminate your employment.”
Gonda, 59, was a music director at St. John Fisher Church in Auburn Hills, near Oakland University. She said priests knew that she and Kirsti Reeve, 51, were married in 2011.
The Catholic Church recognizes marriage as between a man and a woman.
“It’s a shot to the head from headquarters,” Gonda said of her firing. “The dehumanization of this is just not right. My heart just hurts because I have an outpouring of love for them. I love them. I believe that they believe they’re doing the right thing — they’re trying to protect the church.”
The Archdiocese of Detroit, citing privacy, told the Detroit Free Press that it does not comment on personnel matters.
The U.S. Supreme Court last week said federal law protects gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in employment. But church employees who perform certain jobs are unlikely to be covered.
The Rev. Jerry Brzezinski, a former pastor at St. John Fisher, said Gonda was a “model person” in the parish.
“It didn’t really make any difference one way or another over who you were or what you were about in terms of your lifestyle,” Brzezinski said. “She was a good person. Her life was of God.”
Gonda and Reeve, who plan to attend Mass on Sunday and sit in the front pew, posted a statement to St. John Fisher Church’s Facebook page after people started to post their anger there.
“For those coming here because you have heard the news story about our firing: please do not direct your anger and hatred at this page or this parish. St. John Fisher has been our home and faith family for decades. This church loves and welcomes us, as they reach out to welcome all people,” the message reads.
Gonda insists anyone who wishes to speak out about her firing to please “refrain from demonizing them or expressing hatred or rage towards them.”
“I’ve got God. I’m filled with joy and love,” Gonda said.