ICYMI: Mount St. Mary teacher's resignation letter, forced on account of her marriage | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, October 19, 2013

ICYMI: Mount St. Mary teacher's resignation letter, forced on account of her marriage

Posted By on Sat, Oct 19, 2013 at 7:25 AM

click to enlarge NEWLYWEDS: Barb Mariani (left) and Tippi McCullough, human faces to the march toward civil rights.
  • NEWLYWEDS: Barb Mariani (left) and Tippi McCullough, human faces to the march toward civil rights.
I posted a link to this last night, but just to make the record clear:

Tippi McCullough, in her 15th year as an English teacher and coach at Mount St. Mary Academy, did send a resignation letter yesterday to principal Diane Wolfe, who told her she otherwise would be fired because she married her partner, Little Rock deputy prosecutor Barb Mariani, earlier in the week in New Mexico. This is known as a constructive firing, Wolfe removed McCullough from the Mount St. Mary staff roster Thursday night.

McCullough wrote:


Pursuant to the conversation we had Wednesday evening, I sadly and respectfully resign my position as English and Theory of Knowledge teacher at Mount St. Mary Academy after fifteen years of coaching and teaching.

I am tendering my resignation on the basis that I was notified by you that my legal marriage on October 16, 2013 in New Mexico to my partner of fourteen years was a violation of the moral clause in my contract because my "lifestyle" is considered contrary to Catholic teaching.

I am greatly disappointed that the powers who control the hiring and firing at Mount St. Mary have taken this stance which seems to be in direct opposition to the Mercy Value recognizing "The Intrinsic Worth and Dignity of Each Person." It is especially heartbreaking because the Mercy Values were one of the many reasons that made it such an honor and joy to work at Mount St. Mary Academy.

I am truly thankful for the love shown to me by current and former students, parents, and teachers.


Tippi McCullough

Mount St. Mary has refused to answer our calls or e-mails about the matter, but one official told the Democrat-Gazette it wouldn't discuss personnel matters. Wolfe gave insight into her thinking in a form e-mail she sent to a number of correspondents. We reprinted that here. She said she was following church guidance in invoking a morals clause in teaching contracts.

Students plan a demonstration in support of McCullough. The  Human Rights Campaign, which broke news of the firing, plans a news conference Tuesday in Little Rock next week. None of this will alter the outcome. The Catholic Church won't yield. The school can't, really.  And McCullough told me  Thursday night she couldn't return to such an environment even if it were possible.

To borrow a cliche, it is important for consciousness raising. A teaching moment. Some 16,000 people have signed a petition. Two good and respected people who love each other have provided two more human faces in the march toward equality and dignity for all. Such people's public witness explains the proliferation of happy progress elsewhere, if not yet in Arkansas. May their number increase. (Speaking of Arkansas, an article in the D-G today summarized defenses by the state and county lawyers to the lawsuit challenging state bans on same-sex marriage. They were as empty against the U.S. Constitution as past interposition arguments have been. "If our constitution says it, it's so. Federal law doesn't count.")

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