Despite wide protests from students, the Seattle Catholic Archdiocese is standing by its decision to fire Mark Zmuda from his position as vice principal of Eastside Catholic School because of his decision to marry his same-sex partner. In an unusual development, Archbishop J. Peter Sartain issued a statement defending the firing:
Leaders of Catholic schools are charged with the responsibility of both imparting and modeling our teaching. The recent personnel decision by the board and administrators of Eastside Catholic regarding Mr. Zmuda was made after a great deal of prayer and consultation. In no way was their goal to be discriminatory to anyone but to be faithful to their mission as a Catholic school. The Archdiocese supports their decision. The decision has been misunderstood and mischaracterized by some, and we now have an opportunity to help our students learn even more about Catholic teaching.
Another instructor at the school, part-time dance instructor Stephanie Merrow, came out as gay since Zmuda’s firing and announced her engagement. She has signed a new contract clarifying that she is now an independent contractor, allowing her to continue working with the students while not formally affiliating with the school.
Students continue to post support for Zmuda using the hashtag #KeepMrZ2013 on Twitter and petition the Church to change its position to not discriminate against educators in same-sex marriages.