A lesbian official at a Catholic university in Illinois claims she was fired after announcing her wedding in a local newspaper.

Laine Tadlock, 60, says that her bosses at Benedictine University in Springfield were aware that she was a lesbian but fired after she announced her marriage to Kae Helstrom in the Springfield Journal-Register during the summer.

The couple married in Iowa. Ms Helstrom is a professor who teaches at the institution.

Ms Tadlock was director of education programmes at the university. She says she did not resign; the university says she did.

A statement issued by Benedictine University yesterday said that Ms Tadlock had been offered a new position as director of accreditation, assessment and institutional effectiveness.

It said it allowing her to continue as director of education “would not be consistent with the university’s mission as a Catholic institution,” and that “aspects of her lifestyle are incompatible with fundamental Catholic beliefs”.

The statement added: “It was not Tadlock’s orientation, but rather the public disregard for fundamental Catholic beliefs which was the basis for the university’s decisions. These decisions were made only after full discussion with the appropriate diocesan officials.”

Ms Tadlock told Associated Press that she was considering taking legal action and had been supported by students.

Her deputy, Maureen Lavin, resigned in a show of support for her.