After introducing her wife to the community, fired teacher Margie Winters received a standing ovation.
In that moment, Winters realized that something good can always come from something bad.
More than 200 families from Waldron Mercy Academy gathered at Jack's Firehouse in Fairmount on Wednesday night to show their support and gratitude for Winters, who had been an educator at the local Catholic school for eight years.
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Winters, who was forced to leave the school for her gay marriage, said the experience made her feel like there had been a death in the family. Winters was baffled when she was called to the principals’ office and forced to resign from her position, noting that the whole ordeal made her head spin.
When Waldron administration hired Winters, it was aware of her homosexuality and told her to keep the information just within the faculty.
“I was advised to be open with the teachers and the community there, but to be quiet with the parents,” Winters said.
According to Winters, her relationship with partner, Andrea Winters, did not seem to bother the administration until a marriage license came into the picture. She believes that a parent who was upset with a school curriculum decision went to the administration about Winters’ gay marriage and contacted the Archdioceses of Philadelphia.
In a meeting with Waldron’s principal shortly after, Winters received an ultimatum: to resign from the position or be fired. If she refused, the archdiocese would have become involved, seeking to strip the school of its catholic identity.
However, many members of the faculty were saddened by Winters’ departure. In fact, Winters and the principal were both overwhelmed with emotion during the meeting and struggled with the decision.
Even after news of her marriage spread across the school community, Winters continued to receive an overwhelming amount of encouragement. The support she has been receiving is contagious, as she accumulated 5,000 likes on her Facebook page in one day.
Winters also mentioned that her faith has deepened. In the wake of Pope’s Francis’ visit in September, Winters is hoping to have a face-to-face meeting with the Pontiff, so he can get the chance to know Winters and her spouse and talk about this important issue.
“Jesus said ‘you will know my disciples by the fruit,” Andrea Winters said. “I would say ‘look at the fruit of our lives.”
Both Margie and Andrea are eagerly awaiting the Pope’s Visit, ready and willing to share their story.