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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Catholic Students Revolt After Church Fires School Vice-Principal for Being Gay

Posted by on Thu, Dec 19, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Today, kids in Seattle's Catholic schools are in revolt. Their protests are spilling into Catholic schools across the city and then flooding into the streets:

The Archdiocese of Seattle has ordered Eastside Catholic High School vice principal Mark Zmuda to be fired for marrying a man. School spokeswoman Sister Mary Tracy told KING 5 "a church decision is not a school decision." A letter sent to students says that marrying a man "violated his employment contract."

Anyone who dismisses power of the Catholic Church is deluded—this map shows its religious dominance in America. Washington State is a particular stronghold. Given that power, the entrenched resistance to the Catholic Church's anti-gay agenda in Seattle is of international significance—and has been for decades.

The anti-gay bigots in the Catholic Church just can't catch a break with Seattle Catholics. Not in the 1980s, when the laity beat back the Vatican to defend a gay mass at St. James Cathedral and protect their gay-friendly archbishop. And not last year, when Catholics for Marriage Equality beat back the bigoted Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, who turned the entire archdiocese into an anti-gay lobbying arm of Rome. Seattle's Catholics out-campaigned him and marched in gay pride.

And not today. They have the hash tag #KeepMrZ2013 and they're posting like crazy. The kids at Holy Names, Seattle Prep, and other schools are protesting in solidarity:

More after the jump:

Let's be absolutely clear on what's going on here. The American bishops believe that their grip on moral authority comes by setting these standards (mostly against women's health and against gay rights). But no one listens to them anymore. Not the priests, not the congregations, not the kids.

They're publicly humiliating Archbishop Sartain by becoming the Catholic Church's new moral authority.

I have a call in to Archdiocese of Seattle spokesman Greg Magnoni, who didn't answer his phone and hasn't called me back. I'm curious how the Archdiocese of Seattle, Sartain, and Magnoni thinks they're helping these kids out or what sort of message they're sending about God.


Comments (51) RSS

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TomJohnsonJr 1
Thrilling news!
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on December 19, 2013 at 2:58 PM · Report this
The photos of the students marching and chanting "change the church" are inspiring. That's the future.

The comments on the SeaTimes article, however, are beyond disgusting. Thankfully, that's the past and, like Ken Hutcherson, the past is dying.
Posted by gnossos on December 19, 2013 at 2:58 PM · Report this
Please fix the typo about "marring a man". Too important a story to have that in it. Thanks.
Posted by NotYourStrawMan on December 19, 2013 at 3:00 PM · Report this
fletc3her 4
Inadvertently teaching the youth an important lesson. Stand up for what is right!
Posted by fletc3her on December 19, 2013 at 3:03 PM · Report this
Kinison 5
Time to call The Pope, no way they can get their job back when they signed some stupid document to not be gay. The only one who can be sympathetic enough to force their re-reinstatement, would be the pope.
Posted by Kinison on December 19, 2013 at 3:04 PM · Report this
Dominic Holden 6
@3) Thanks. Done.
Posted by Dominic Holden on December 19, 2013 at 3:10 PM · Report this
Pope Francis better rein in his bishops, or he's going to lose his church. This is nothing but another self-inflicted wound, old clerics foaming at the mouth, yelling at the wind. Firing a school administrator for getting married? Do they have any idea how stupid that sounds?
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on December 19, 2013 at 3:11 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 8
The Washington Post maps you linked to show that Washington State is not very religious at all. It might be mostly Catholic but Washington is hardly a "stronghold" of any religion. More like a stronghold of irreligion.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on December 19, 2013 at 3:13 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 9
A high school is a happy school. Are these schools private or public? If they're private, like the Boy Scouts, I don't see that the Gay teacher has a hope of getting is job back.

And bravo on the kids for getting all involved and active. It's such a rush being that age and getting riled up and involved.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on December 19, 2013 at 3:14 PM · Report this
And, sheesh! If you don't like who the guy is marrying, then don't go to the wedding. Simple. That's how civilized people handle crises like this. But going all nutso? Who is the Church hoping to impress with their little tantrum? The students, God bless them, see it for what it is.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on December 19, 2013 at 3:18 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 11
We are entering a new era. Something important is happening the world over. People are no longer satisfied being told what to think.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on December 19, 2013 at 3:25 PM · Report this
dnt trust me 12
Dominic, you went to Catholic Schools, right? How did you make it through that evil bigoted environment to be the wonderful well-adjusted person you are today?
Posted by dnt trust me on December 19, 2013 at 3:29 PM · Report this
kellyllek 13
the catholic church needs to evolve. every catholic i know uses birth control. a few have had abortions. you really think your members are following all your rules??! hahaha!! right.
Posted by kellyllek on December 19, 2013 at 3:29 PM · Report this
rob! 14
Peter Sartain—Internet Anagram Server says "Satan Tier Rep."

I assume that means he's the guy to see for timeshares in the various circles of Hell.
Posted by rob! on December 19, 2013 at 3:31 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 15
Proud of them
Posted by Will in Seattle on December 19, 2013 at 3:34 PM · Report this
Dominic Holden 16
@12) You miss the entire point. Seattle's laity, congregations, nuns, and priests--the people involved in my religious upbringing and schooling--are pro-gay-rights progressives who have been fighting, successfully, against the bigoted forces of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Vatican.
Posted by Dominic Holden on December 19, 2013 at 3:37 PM · Report this
Fnarf 17
God DAMN that is a beautiful thing to see. You kids rock.
Posted by Fnarf on December 19, 2013 at 3:38 PM · Report this
The Catholic School system did an excellent job of teaching these kids how morality and respect should look. Also about how to think for themselves. I wonder if they understood that this would be the result? I'm proud of every one of these kids.
Posted by SeattleKim on December 19, 2013 at 3:39 PM · Report this
Where are the Seattle U kids and faculty?
Posted by Timothy on December 19, 2013 at 3:44 PM · Report this
Pridge Wessea 20
@5 - You miss the point. While getting someone reinstated is the goal, what they're saying is so much larger than that.
Posted by Pridge Wessea on December 19, 2013 at 3:50 PM · Report this
dnt trust me 21
@16 ah, yeah i guess I missed the point. Cool that you liked your Catholic education. I did too. Not perfect. 4 out of 5 stars I'd give it.
Posted by dnt trust me on December 19, 2013 at 3:52 PM · Report this
@5, 9: You're both quite right, he may never get his job back. But there's a larger point here: These kids are the future, and they represent high school kids everywhere. The church will not be able to ignore them forever. Change will come.
Posted by bigyaz on December 19, 2013 at 3:57 PM · Report this
"Gay" marriage is the law of our state. .... as a matter of fact at our house we now just call it MARRIAGE.

SO PROUD OF THESE STUDENTS (and of the State of Washington). STANDING UP for equality.
Posted by go bulldogs on December 19, 2013 at 4:11 PM · Report this
Any idea what's happening at Blanchet? And at Kennedy HS in the south end?
Posted by sandi k on December 19, 2013 at 4:12 PM · Report this
So... they're discriminating against an employee on the basis of marital status. I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure the penalty they're facing on that is somewhere between substantial and astronomical.
Posted by usagi on December 19, 2013 at 4:34 PM · Report this
merry 26
Dang, I seem to have something in my eye........ stoopid dusty office... BRB
Posted by merry on December 19, 2013 at 4:47 PM · Report this
@25: I am a student at one of these schools and we honestly do not care about the punishment. There is no freedom without equality. The punishment of freedom being taken away has already been given.
Posted by Caseyy on December 19, 2013 at 4:54 PM · Report this
@27 If anyone takes any message away from the words and teachings of Jesus, it should be that. Equality is the touchstone of everything he taught in how to treat each other and ourselves. The hierarchical Church, with it's patriarchy, wealth, misogyny and homophobia would appall Jesus.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on December 19, 2013 at 5:07 PM · Report this
The next step really has to be something like the families withholding tuition payments. Okay, maybe not 100% of the parents have a problem with this kind of discrimination (I mean, they are members of this Church, presumably). However, I'd imagine at least 25-50% of the parents will object to this boneheaded move to remove the principal at their children's school. If they withhold tuition payments, I cannot imagine school remaining a viable enterprise. Or will the archdiocese subsidize the shortfall? On (bigoted) principle?
Posted by Jail Bush Now on December 19, 2013 at 5:07 PM · Report this
rtm 30
The amazing thing would be if Pope F, as he is making his next Cardinals, selected Fr. Michael Ryan of St. James Cathedral. He is a superstar, left here in the aftermath of the Hunthausen affair. Nothing could send a clearer message to Sartain than elevating Ryan.

@29 - that will never happen. You don't pay tuition, they hold your transcripts, and then it gets hard to go to college.
Posted by rtm on December 19, 2013 at 5:22 PM · Report this
Much gratitude to all the homophobic individuals and institutions around the world. History will show your important role in advancing the acceptance of LGBT rights through revulsion over your hateful actions.
Posted by Koots on December 19, 2013 at 5:28 PM · Report this
Helenka (also a Canuck) 32
IIRC, wasn't the administration already aware of this man's relationship with his male partner - thereby tacitly condoning both it and his ability to do his job properly - but only took action after the wedding? Bunch of hypocrites. And yay for the kids and their enthusiastic show of support.
Posted by Helenka (also a Canuck) on December 19, 2013 at 5:43 PM · Report this
jeffinfremont 33
Last I checked, the Catholic Church has yet to come to terms with allowing priests to rape their altar boys for decades upon decades, so I think they've got a ways to go before they can claim any bona fide role as an arbitrator of morals.
Posted by jeffinfremont http:// on December 19, 2013 at 6:08 PM · Report this
Q*bert H. Humphrey 34
KUOW is reporting that the school has cancelled classes for Friday due to the expectation of snow and the "difficult day" they had today.
Posted by Q*bert H. Humphrey on December 19, 2013 at 6:21 PM · Report this
Posted by Danger on December 19, 2013 at 6:55 PM · Report this
Props to the kid giving the double horns.
Posted by rhombus on December 19, 2013 at 6:57 PM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 37
@25- It's a religious organization, they can legally discriminate for any reason they call religious.
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings on December 19, 2013 at 7:11 PM · Report this
TVDinner 38
Lead the way, kids. Lead the way.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on December 19, 2013 at 7:15 PM · Report this
The law will not enforce unconscionable contract clauses. They need to abandon this chicken-shit employment contract excuse and own their blatant discrimination.
Posted by miles27 on December 19, 2013 at 11:02 PM · Report this
I'll bet Sartain is cursing Ratzinger right now. He's already had to deal with a bunch of uppity nuns and disobedient priests and and now this. Ratzinger's living it up in gaudy retirement and Sartain's stuck in Seattle in very public ignominy.

Maybe Bill Gates should kick Lakeside into giving the principal a job. It would be only just, considering Microsoft's early cowardice on gay marriage.

Posted by sarah70 on December 19, 2013 at 11:19 PM · Report this
While I agree that it's wrong to fire someone for his sexual orientation...Eastside Catholic is a PRIVATE school and can do whatever they want. There's no one making families send their kids there. The Catholics are allowed to have their own opinions about gays, just like we all can have our opinions. I support gay rights, but I also support the right of other people to think differently, especially private institutions.
Posted by seattleutahdude on December 20, 2013 at 12:14 AM · Report this
I'm quite pleased to see these students taking a stand on conscience and demonstrating the strength of the laity to adapt to modern times. If there is to be a future to Catholicism, they are it.

@41: and the students, who are basically customers, are not happy with what this private business is doing. While it remains to be seen where the parents of these students stand, if a private business wants to stay in business, they need to keep the desires of their clientele in mind. Opinions are opinions; policy is policy. While there may be connections, they are not interchangeable.
Posted by MemeGene on December 20, 2013 at 12:32 AM · Report this
Sandiai 43
@27, thank you for your bravery and compassion.
Posted by Sandiai on December 20, 2013 at 1:20 AM · Report this
@41: Not correct. The fact that it's a private school doesn't exempt it from generally applicable employment laws. If it did, every sole proprietorship business would have the same exemptions.

A more difficult question is whether a school operated by a church is a religious institution and if so, are the people who run it covered by the "ministerial" exemption to employment laws? The Supreme Court ruled within the last year or so that basically, a church can define who its "ministers" are, not to be second-guessed by the courts, including "lay ministers". That said, I don't think the Catholic Church considers school employees in general "lay ministers" and it would be awfully "convenient" if this diocese suddenly made such a declaration. And while courts generally can't second-guess the criteria for being a "minister", they can verify that the definition is not mere pretext - by making sure all similarly-situated employees are subject to the same restrictions, for instance.
Posted by cowboyinbrla on December 20, 2013 at 1:45 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 45
@44: While it being a private school doesn't change anything, the fact that he signed an employment contract specifically stating that he wouldn't engage in conduct contrary to the church's teachings certainly does.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on December 20, 2013 at 5:27 AM · Report this
@44: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act expressly exempts religious organizations as does the Washington Law Against Discrimination (RCW 49.60.040). So while I completely disagree with the schools actions, they're acting within the confines of the law.
Posted by Bnerd on December 20, 2013 at 6:47 AM · Report this
stonato 47
The laws are unimportant when they conflict with God's laws (ask the diocese.) The kids are right and I, for one, am proud of those opposing the authority of the administration.
Once the preponderance of opinion is aligned with the current thinking at the top of the church hierarchy (which might be achievable with this pope) this issue will no longer be an issue.
Posted by stonato on December 20, 2013 at 9:00 AM · Report this

Except that, in some instances (not necessarily this one), provisions of a contract that run contrary to the law would most likely be unenforceable.

For example, an employer can include all sorts of "morality clauses", but if the behavior in question is otherwise legal, and there is no impact on the employee's performance as a result of engaging in it, chances are the clause would be considered null-and-void. Same could be said of a contract that included language stating the employee agrees to waive their right to overtime pay if they are in a non-supervisory position; putting it into the contract doesn't negate the employee's right to time and-a-half after 40 hours, because workplace protections guaranteed under federal labor law can't be negotiated away.

Granted, religious institutions enjoy a great deal more leeway in this regard than do secular organizations, and furthermore, the costs of litigation are so extraordinarily high that most people won't bring suit, even if they believe they've been wronged. But nevertheless, just because something is IN a contract it doesn't always follow that it can be legally enforced.
Posted by COMTE on December 20, 2013 at 10:09 AM · Report this
@40: Can you point me to the evidence supporting your assertion that Microsoft showed "...early cowardice on gay marriage"?
Posted by Brian Murphy on December 20, 2013 at 10:30 AM · Report this
pfffter 50
So I guess they're going to start firing all the teachers that use birth control too, right? RIGHT?!?
Posted by pfffter on December 20, 2013 at 11:40 AM · Report this
I just heard that a lesbian teacher at Eastside Catholic came out over the radio yesterday. When will all the other faculty members who use artificial birth control "come out" as well? What about those who masturbate or have ever been divorced without the benefit of a Catholic-approved annulment? What about those straight people who have violated Catholic teaching by having extra-marital sex or sex before marriage? Will they too not stand with these brave gay teachers or will they continue taking the easy route by "passing" in order to keep their cozy jobs at others' expense?
Posted by tniel on January 8, 2014 at 7:47 AM · Report this

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