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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 7 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 06
Stand with Mr. Z Day launches new foundation
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Stand with Mr. Z Day launches new foundation

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Mark Zmuda, the former vice principal of Eastside Catholic high school, who was forced to resign after it was revealed he'd married his same-sex partner, launched the Stand With Mr. Z Foundation at an event put together by Eastside alumni, January 31.

The Foundation launched its first event: 'Z Day' that Friday, in which students and friends who support Zmuda and equality for LGBT people were encouraged to wear orange and tweet 'I Stand With Mr. Z' with the hashtag Zday.

'They told me that, unfortunately, because I married a man, it was against Catholic social teachings ... and that they, unfortunately, were going to have to let me go,' Zmuda recalled the meeting in which Eastside Catholic President Sister Mary Tracy fired him when he spoke to some 250 supporters inside parish hall at St. Joseph Parish to discuss the Catholic Church's attitude toward Gays and why it must change.

An emotional Zmuda came onstage to announce the formation of the 'Stand with Mr. Z Foundation.'

Cleve Jones, a veteran San Francisco Gay rights and union organizer (who had been an aide to assassinated San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk and who was portrayed by actor Emile Hirsch in the movie 'Milk') told the audience how he felt watching Mr. Z protests from afar.

'I am really moved by this,' Jones said. 'I get a feeling that what is happening here is not one of those brief and transitory moments.'

Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, who campaigned against Referendum 74, which legalized same-sex marriage in Washington state, has forbidden any use of church or Catholic school facilities for such marriages or receptions.

In addition, Catholic clergy cannot give marriage-preparation counseling to Gay or Lesbian couples.

Across the country, employees of Catholic schools and organizations who have legally married same-sex partners have started to lose their jobs.

The firing of Zmuda generated a protest that has spread from the Eastside Catholic campus in Sammamish to other Catholic high schools in the area.

Members of the Eastside Catholic swim team that he coached, were at the event wearing 'Swim for Coach Z' T-shirts.

The students at Eastside became the teachers, Mr. Z argued.

'They are trying to teach the Church and the school some valuable lessons. They are trying to live a message broadcast every day at the school after announcements: 'Take care of each other,' he said.

'It is because of you and your bravery that we are here tonight,' Zmuda added.

Zmuda was raised Catholic. He believes in God and the Holy Trinity and, he says, tries to obey the Ten Commandments 'to the best of my ability.'

Cleve Jones, who is 60, said he is hopeful that he will 'see all my people gain full protection under the law in all 50 states, I will see that in my time.'

For more information about the Stand With Mr. Z Foundation, visit www.standwithmrz.org.

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