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MERION, PA - A suburban Philadelphia Catholic educator says being fired over her same-sex marriage felt like a death inside.

Margie Winters tells KYW-TV ( ) her dismissal last month from Merion's Waldron Mercy Academy hit at the core of her life as a gay Catholic.

The former religious education director says she never felt marginalized from the church. She says the episode underscores the need for a conversation about tolerance and acceptance.

Winters was hired in 2007. She got married the same year. She says she was told she could be open with faculty but should avoid discussing her personal life with parents.

She says she kept a low profile about her marriage but someone complained. About 200 parents rallied to Winters' defense. The school said it had a duty to comply with Catholic teaching.