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Lesbian Sues Kansas City Diocese Over Firing

Colleen Simon, 57, a parish food pantry worker who was fired over her marriage to another woman, sued the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph on Thursday, the latest in a growing number of clashes over gay rights between Roman Catholic leaders and their employees nationwide.

Diocesan officials hadn't yet seen the lawsuit, but said in a statement, "As a church, we have the right to live and operate according to our faith and church teachings."

New Ways Ministry, a Catholic gay rights group, has found more than 15 cases since 2010 of U.S. teachers, school administrators or parish musicians who lost jobs or resigned after expressing support for gay marriage or going public with their own same-sex relationships. Several of the former employees have sued.

The Missouri lawsuit was filed Thursday by Colleen Simon, who said she worked as a parish bookkeeper in the diocese before she was hired in 2013 as a food pantry coordinator at St. Francis Xavier Church. In each step of the hiring process, she said she told administrators she had married a woman a year earlier in Iowa, where gay marriage is recognized, and diocesan and parish representatives said her marital status would not be a problem. She was fired when the couple was mentioned last April in a newspaper article.

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- The Associated Press