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Catholic high school teacher fired after applying for same-sex marriage license

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 11 2013 6:10 p.m. MST

In this Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013 photo, the sun shines behind a cross atop the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence, R.I.

Michael Dwyer, Associated Press

BENSALEM, Pa. — A Philadelphia Catholic high school teacher was fired Friday after he told school administrators he was going to apply for a gay marriage license, according to Religion News Service.

The teacher, Michael Griffin, applied for a gay marriage license in New Jersey, which just recently approved same-sex marriage, RNS reported. Griffin — who taught both French and Spanish at Holy Ghost Preparatory School where he worked for 12 years — told the school’s principal, Jeffrey Danilak, in email earlier in the week that he was applying for the marriage, RNS said. Both Danilak and Rev. James McCloskey, the school’s president, told Griffin “if he intended to go through with the marriage he would be fired,” according to RNS.

McCloskey said in a statement that “the school must abide by the teachings of the Catholic Church, and Griffin had violated his contract with the school when he applied for a same-sex marriage license,” according to The Christian Post.

Griffin was very surprised by his termination and took to Facebook to express his concerns, according to The Christian Post.

“After 12 years together I was excited to finally be able to marry my partner,” he wrote on Facebook. “Because of that, I was fired from Holy Ghost Preparatory School today. I am an alumnus of the school and have taught there for 12 years. I feel hurt, saddened, betrayed and except for this post, am at a loss for words."

Francis Locke of mommyish.com questioned Griffin’s termination. She said she understand why Griffin was fired, but also said the school's firing was inconsistent with their relationship with Griffin.

“The school KNEW he was gay,” Locke wrote. “Why is it okay for him to ‘live in sin’ with another man for years, but suddenly not okay when he wants to marry that man and ‘make it official’? Why cherry pick what rules they want to follow?”

New Jersey 101.5’s website allowed viewers to vote in a poll whether they thought his firing was justifiable or not. On Monday afternoon, more than 61 percent of voters voted “yes” while about 31 percent voted “no.” The remaining 5 percent voted “other.”

“Hate to say it, but inasmuch as I disagree with the Church’s teaching on same-sex marriage — Mr. Griffin had to know — a contract’s a contract,” wrote Ray Rossi for New Jersey 101.5.

Samuel Gonzalez at rightwingnews.com also said Griffin was rightly fired for violating the contract given to him by the school.

One blogger at drjays.com said Griffin’s firing is a sensitive topic, and it’s unclear if the former teacher has a case for legal action should he choose to pursue it.

“This is an incredibly touchy issue, because it sounds like the school was OK with him saying that he was gay, but they’re not OK with him actually making his relationship official,” wrote Chris Yuscavage. “And while it might make sense for a Catholic institution to shy away from employing a gay teacher because of the belief system that’s in place, it’s unclear whether or not Griffin could pursue legal action against them for firing him because of his sexuality.”

Email: hscribner@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @hscribner

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