MARGIE WINTERS, the Waldron Mercy Academy teacher who was fired last month because she is in a same-sex marriage, hand-delivered a petition yesterday to the offices of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia seeking reinstatement.

Winters said she also sought a moratorium on firing LGBT employees in the Archdiocese.

"We ask for full inclusion at the table and in the church. And we ask now for a moratorium on firing every LGBT employee . . . ," said Winters, interrupted by enthusiastic applause from a small crowd at the Archdiocese's Center City offices, " . . . until there can be a conversation about this with the voice of the LGBT community at the table."

About 60 people, many from the Waldron community and Winters' parish, St. Vincent de Paul in Germantown, attended the public handover of the petition to a building security guard. During the event, the number of signatures broke 23,000, Winters said.

The petition appears to be addressed to Archbishop Charles Chaput and states that "Margie Winters' firing was unjust and contrary to Catholic values, and she should be reinstated immediately. Please inform the school's leadership that you will not interfere with their staffing or threaten their status as a Catholic school."

The Archdiocese has steadfastly denied the claims by many Waldron parents and alums that Chaput had Winters fired. Archdiocese spokesman Ken Gavin said in a statement that the petition was "problematic."

"As has been noted several times, Waldron Mercy is a private Catholic school and does not fall under the administrative purview of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. It's wrong for any individual or group to perpetuate the falsehood that the archbishop interfered with the school's personnel decisions," Gavin said.

Chaput, however, fully supports the decision made by the Sisters of Mercy, the school's sponsor, and is grateful to the order for ensuring "that the Catholic faith is presented in a way fully in accord with the teaching of the church," Gavin said.

"Schools describing themselves as Catholic take on the responsibility of teaching and witnessing the Catholic faith in a manner true to Catholic belief. The petition being presented does not change that stance," Gavin said.

Anthony Arechavala, a parent of two children at Waldron who attended the event, said it doesn't add up.

"Why did they allow her to teach for eight years if they weren't pressured by the Archdiocese? Someone's simply not telling us the cold, hard facts here," Arechavala said. "Who is behind the termination of Margie Winters?"