Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Private Pair, Public Fight

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Private Pair, Public Fight

Article excerpt

Kate Drumgoole tilted her head and spoke softly Friday, visibly uncomfortable in the spotlight into which she had been thrust. There were four microphones just inches from her face.

Her wife, Jaclyn Vanore, sat beside her, flashing a bright smile and answering questions, including one about the crucifix she was wearing. ("It's coming off soon," she says.)

The typically private Bogota couple find themselves in a pitched battle with the Archdiocese of Newark and Paramus Catholic High School, Drumgoole's alma mater. She served as the school's dean of guidance and girls' basketball coach until she was fired in January after administrators learned that she was married to a woman.

"I grew up in the Paramus Catholic gym, and one day they told me, you can't go in there anymore," said Drumgoole, 33.

Earlier on Friday, media outlets jockeyed for space inside a small civil courtroom at the Bergen County Courthouse to listen as Judge Lisa Perez Friscia heard arguments on a motion filed by Christopher Westrick, an attorney representing Paramus Catholic; its president, James P. Vail; and the archdiocese, asking that Drumgoole's discrimination lawsuit be dismissed.

Friscia did not rule on the matter on Friday. A decision is expected early next week.

In his motion, Westrick said his clients had not violated New Jersey's Laws Against Discrimination statute because it allows churches to require employees to subscribe to their tenets. He also argued that the defendants' conduct is protected under the First Amendment, which guarantees the free exercise of religion -- and freedom from government entanglement within religion.

"Those First Amendment rights, that exception of the LAD provided for religious organizations," Westrick said, "absolutely prevents this case from going forward."

Westrick said that Drumgoole signed an acknowledgement form agreeing to abide by the Roman Catholic tenets when she was hired, and that it was part of her collective bargaining agreement.

The school found out about Drumgoole's marriage when Vanore's sister shared pictures from her wedding in private messages to the school's Facebook page, the school's alumni association page and Vail's personal account on the social-networking site. …

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