AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (WXYZ) — The Archdiocese of Detroit is facing criticism for firing an employee based on her legal married status as part of a lesbian couple.
Terry Gonda was the former music director for St. John Fisher Chapel in Auburn Hills. She said her love of the Catholic church is a central part of her life.
She said it was painful to learn that after three decades of helping run the music department at her parish, she was fired Wednesday for being legally married to a woman – a relationship she never kept secret.
“It was not pastoral. It sends terror to the community and many people are talking to us saying they want to leave this faith," Gonda said.
“Once it became known we were legally married, and someone had told the archdiocese, there are certain rules you play by. It wasn’t being gay that was a problem. It was being legally gay," she added.
Gonda said an email in mid-June spelled out the church would activate a morality clause.
Gonda met her wife, Kirsti Reeve, on a trip to England in 1994 and got married in 2011.
“People who know us and love us, see we make each other better. The lives we saved and people we touched, it’s because of our love," Reeve said.
Gonda's firing also comes nine days after the Supreme Court ruled LGBTQ workers are entitled to federal job protections, but due to separation of church and state, the decision doesn't apply to religious organizations.
“I think the church has to come to terms with this. It has a lot of work to do and not just sit there and be defensive and say leave us alone," Gonda said.
A rally is scheduled for Saturday night at the church in Auburn Hills to support Gonda and Reeve.
In a statement, the Detroit Archdiocese says out of respect for the privacy of those involved, they do not comment on personnel matters.