Two workers at a Winter Park, Florida, daycare center run by the Methodist church claim the were fired for being gay, despite the church’s official stance against gender discrimination, reports Bay News 9.
According to Jaci Pfeiffer and Kelly Bardier,. they were fired from their jobs at the Aloma Methodist Early Childhood Learning Center by the school’s director when confronted over their relationship with each other.
According to Pfeiffer — who had worked at the school for over a year and a half — she admitted to school director Barbara Twachtman that they were gay and were in a relationship.
“I said, ‘Can I get fired for this?’ She said, ‘Yes,’ and I was surprised,” Pfeiffer said.
Bardier, who only worked at the center for a few months, added,”I was called in next and I was told Jaci had told her about our relationship and that we couldn’t work for the school if we were choosing to live a life in sin — that they couldn’t have us in leadership roles.”
According to the women, they were terminated and the following day Twachtman sent an email to parents saying Pfeiffer left for “personal reasons” before writing, “Jaci has been a wonderful teacher and I have told her that she is very gifted with children. I am very sad that she is leaving.”
In 2008 the United Methodist Church passed a resolution stating that the church opposes “all forms of violence or discrimination based on gender, gender identity, sexual practice or sexual orientation.”
According to an attorney for the women, Mary Meeks, that would prevent the church from using religious doctrine as a justification for dismissal under exemptions granted religious organizations contained in the county’s Human Rights Ordinance.
“The Orange County ordinance says you cannot discriminate against an individual based on their sexual orientation,” said Meeks, who helped write the ordinance. “You can’t fire them or refuse to hire them.”
In turn, a spokesperson for the Florida Conference UMC pointed to a 2012 provision in the church’s Book of Discipline that states, “The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.”
According to Pfeiffer and Bardier, they don’t want their jobs back, but they also don’t want a firing to appear on their working records and are considering their legal options.