SEEKING JUSTICE

A Catholic School Principal Was Given A Choice: Quit Or Divorce. He Decided To Sue Instead

Mark ZmudaMark Zmuda no longer has his job as the vice principal of Eastside Catholic High School outside of Seattle. His new job is to get justice for being fired for marrying his husband. Zmuda has filed a lawsuit against the school and the Archdiocese of Seattle, on the grounds that school promised not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

“If I had read the school’s website and it had said, ‘We do not hire gay men or gay men who marry,’ I would have never taken the job at Eastside Catholic,” said Zmuda. Zmuda is seeking unspecified damages, but any resolution is unlikely to involve his return to the school.

Zmuda’s case illustrates everything that is wrong about the Catholic Church’s attitude toward marriage equality: duplicity, deception and discrimination, in equal measures. Zmuda was a beloved at the school and kept his marriage to his partner to himself. However,  when he mentioned his marriage to some co-workers, a colleague ratted him out and Zmuda found himself out of a job.

But not before the president of the school decided that divorce wouldn’t violated Catholic teaching if it applied to a gay marriage. Sister Mary Tracy generously offered to let Zmuda keep his job if he would leave the love of his life, because being a vice principal is apparently so much more rewarding.

“I was asked by the school to break my wedding vows to keep my job,” Zmuda said at a news conference Friday. “I was told I could either divorce or be fired. How could anyone ask anyone else to make that choice?”

In the best tradition of upholding the value of honesty, the school then said that Zmuda quit voluntarily. However, the school told parents that he was terminated.

Zmuda says that the school was originally supportive of his marriage but change its attitude because of pressure from the Archdiocese of Seattle. The Archdiocese denies the allegation. And we all know what a great track record on honesty they’ve had in this case.