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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 20 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 51
Catholic school vice principal fired for same-sex marriage
Section One
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Catholic school vice principal fired for same-sex marriage

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Eastside Catholic High School in Sammamish fired Vice Principal Mark Zmuda by forcing him to resign because he married a man over the summer. The Archdiocese of Seattle ordered the firing of Mr. Zmuda and a 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.'

The students, however, did not feel the same way as the Archdiocese and an amazing thing happened. As word spread throughout Eastside Catholic High School, students took their protest to social media, which then spread news of the ridiculous firing to other Catholic high schools and groups of four protesters soon became 150 or more, until finally, sit-ins began to take place at campuses across the state. After a few hours, media began to show up and that is where the story ends for now.

Seattle Gay News Publisher and Editor-in-Chief and longtime LGBT civil rights activist, George Bakan, said, 'If there was ever any doubt that the kids of today weren't going to get engaged in social justice, that doubt was erased today.'

Bakan said that today's action was inspiring and should have an impact nationally. 'The younger generation has stood up to the boss and said, 'No, we aren't going to take this crap anymore.'

Zeena Geraldine, publisher and founder of LGBTQ online youth magazine 'Be! Magazine,' told Seattle Gay News, 'We need to tell the Archdiocese that their decision goes against the right and dignity of not only Zmuda, but of all LGBTQ+ people in their schools, parishes, and communities. By making school faculty have to make the decision be-tween being happy with the person they love and keeping their job totally goes against Catholic teachings of love and acceptance.'

'We are the voice of the Catholic church,' said Geraldine, who attends Holy Names Academy. 'We are the future of the world and the Catholic community, and we will protest.'

According to Bradley Strode, the student body president at Eastside Catholic High School, the student body is overwhelmingly against the decision that Mr. Zmuda should re-sign. In fact, Strode told KIRO Radio 97.3, 'There are a few people who believe that the right decision was made, but they are outnumbered by those who just think this is wrong.'

Caelan Colburn, a senior at Eastside, was part of the original group that called the sit-in Thursday. She said, 'Because there were so many of us there, it wasn't like a go-back-to-class kind of thing. It was more like an express yourself and get-your-feelings-out kind of thing.'

Colburn said that students should rally together as a community. 'They need to stand up for what they believe in, whether it's what the administration teaches or what the Arch-diocese preaches, being part of a progressive state like [Washington] we've come to a point where we accept Gay rights, accept homosexuals, and I think you ought to stand up for that no matter what anyone says. It's your beliefs and you're entitled to your own opinion. And today really showed that Eastside Catholic is a family and not only is a family but the entire community of Seattle-area Catholic schools are a family.'



PROTEST ORGANIZED
On Friday, December 20, at 2 p.m., Social Outreach Seattle, otherwise known as SOSea, will hold a protest outside the offices of the Archdiocese of Seattle (710 9th Ave.). Scheduled to speak are several student activists, a former nun and more.

This event is not meant to somehow confuse the notion that we don't get that what the Archdiocese did was legal. The public is smarter than that. We know it was perfectly within the Archdiocese' legal right because Mr. Zmuda, like all teachers and administrators at these schools, sign a contract that says they will not violate Catholic doctrine.

But we don't care about that. This is about the moral high ground. This is about the fact that a man, who fell in love with another man in a state where such unions are legal mar-ried the person he loves and was then terminated from his job for doing so. That cannot and will not stand. And the Catholic Church is going to hear this message loud and clear from the different generations in attendance.

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