Gay Teacher Fired After Obtaining Marriage License

A 12-year-teaching veteran was fired from a Catholic high school in Pennsylvania immediately after he applied for a marriage license with his same-sex partner in neighboring New Jersey Friday.

BY Sunnivie Brydum

December 08 2013 3:31 PM ET

A gay teacher at an all-boys Catholic high school in Pennsylvania says he was fired immediately after he obtained a marriage license in New Jersey on Friday.

Michael Griffin taught Spanish and French at Holy Ghost Preparatory School in Bensalem, Pa., for the past 12 years, reports NBC Philadelphia. But on Friday, Griffin was informed by the school's headmaster that his impending marriage to his partner of more than a decade "contradicts the terms of his teaching contract."

"Today I applied for a marriage license since NJ now has marriage equality," Griffin said on his personal Facebook page Friday. "After 12 years together I was excited to finally be able to marry my partner. 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."

Griffin told NBC Philadelphia that his longstanding relationship was no secret at the Catholic school, noting that his now-fiancé has accompanied him to school functions, and even to the headmaster's home. Griffin informed the administration of his plan to obtain a marriage license via email, which he believes ultimately led to his termination. 

The school's headmaster, Father James McCloskey, acknowledged that Griffin's firing was due to his plans to marry his same-sex partner. 

"At a meeting in my office yesterday, teacher Michael Griffin made clear that he obtained a license to marry his same sex partner," McCloskey wrote in a statement obtained by NBC Philadelphia. "Unfortunately, this decision contradicts the terms of his teaching contract at our school, which requires all faculty and staff to follow the teachings of the Church as a condition of their employment. In discussion with Mr. Griffin, he acknowledged that he was aware of this provision, yet he said that he intended to go ahead with the ceremony. Regretfully, we informed Mr. Griffin that we have no choice but to terminate his contract effective immediately."

Griffin told NBC that he believes the section of his contract he violated is that which declares that "all teachers are expected to uphold lifestyles compatible with the moral teaching of the Roman Catholic Church."

As a private, parochial institution, Holy Ghost Preparatory is within its legal rights to terminate an employee whose actions contradict the institution's religious doctrine. Pennsylvania's statewide nondiscrimination law expressly prohibits discrimination in employment based on race, color, sex, ancestry, national origin, religion, educational level, or disability — but does not include protections for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, according to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

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