According to a report by the Associated Press on March 7, Mark Zmuda, a former principal at Eastside Catholic School in Seattle, has filed a discrimination and wrongful termination lawsuit against the school and church on Friday. Zmuda was let go from his job once the school learned that he was in a same-sex marriage relationship.
The firing led to several online petitions and stirred debate at the school and also in the church. The petitions called for a change in the church as Zmuda was fired based on an employment agreement he signed, stating that his public life had to be consistent with the values and teachings of the Catholic Church. Zmuda signed the agreement before he was married and before same-sex marriage was legal in the state of Washington.
Like other administrators at the school, Zmuda feels he has the right to be in a loving relationship and not have who he is married to have an effect on his job. He also felt it was unfair to be asked to divorce in order to keep the job he loved.
“I was asked by the school to break my wedding vows to keep my job. I was told I could either divorce or be fired. How could anyone ask anyone else to make that choice?,” Zmuda said at a news conference Friday.
As one of the schools most popular teachers and administrators, Zmuda’s firing has led supporters to call for a change in church doctrine regarding gay marriage. In defense of the lawsuit, lawyers for the church and school have planned to respond with a motion that King County Superior court would be violating their First Amendment right by hearing the case. They also argue that Mark Zumda knew the police before he agreed to take the job.
Zmuda, understanding the teachings and values as a Catholic man, also understands the value of his own heart.
“I am a lifelong Catholic. I am a gay man. I did not choose to be gay. I do not see any inconsistency in the teachings of Jesus and being gay.”
In the lawsuit, Zmuda also makes note of a statement posted by the school on its website that it does not discriminate based on marital status or sexual orientation. The statement has since been removed following Zmuda’s termination.