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Church: Free speech protects decision to fire teacher

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Catholic church leaders in Indianapolis are citing the First Amendment as a defense to a lawsuit filed by a teacher who was fired because he's in a same-sex marriage.

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis asked a judge Wednesday to dismiss a lawsuit by Joshua Payne-Elliott, who worked at Cathedral High School for 13 years. The school fired him in June on orders from the archdiocese.

Payne-Elliott says the church illegally interfered in his contract with the school. But in a court filing, the archdiocese says its decisions are protected by the First Amendment and the separation of church and state.

Payne-Elliott's spouse, Layton Payne-Elliott, teaches at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis. Brebeuf refused to fire Layton. The archdiocese said it no longer recognizes Brebeuf as a Catholic institution.

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