Seattle Archbishop Defends Firing of Gay Vice Principal

After weeks of protest from students, Archbishop J. Peter Sartain has announced that the Church will stand firm in its support of Eastside Catholic's decision to fire gay administrator Mark Zmuda for marrying his partner.

BY Daniel Reynolds

January 16 2014 2:10 PM ET

Mark Zmuda, the former vice principal of Eastside Catholic

After “a great deal of prayer and consultation,” the Archbishop of Seattle has announced that a Catholic school will not change its decision to terminate a gay vice prinicpal.

The statement comes after weeks of protests from students and parents advocating for the reinstatement of Mark Zmuda, the former vice principal of Eastside Catholic High School in Sammammish, Wash., who was let go after administrators discovered his marriage to husband Dana Jergens.

“The recent personnel decision by the board and administrators of Eastside Catholic regarding Mr. Zmuda was made after a great deal of prayer and consultation,” Archbishop J. Peter Sartain announced Wednesday in a statement reported by the Associated Press. “In no way was their goal to be discriminatory to anyone but to be faithful to their mission as a Catholic school.”

Since Zmuda left the school in December — school officials say he resigned, but Zmuda says he was fired — students have organized sit-ins and other protests demanding that the gay vice principal be reinstated. They are planning a large-scale protest in support of the educator, fondly known as Mr. Z, which students have dubbed "Z-Day." On January 31, students are asking supporters at the school and around the nation to wear orange to show support for Zmuda and call for change within the school's Catholic doctrine. 

In addition, a Change.org petition urging the Catholic Church to change its position on same-sex marriage regarding Catholic school teachers has garnered more than 30,000 signatures to date.

Stephanie Merrow, a part-time drama coach at Eastside, announced Monday that she planned to wear the engagement ring she recently got from her girlfriend of five years when she reported to work this week. The subtle act of protest has not yet cost Merrow her job. 

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