Meet the People Fired for Being LGBT in 2013
BY Sunnivie Brydum
December 18 2013 6:30 AM ET
Michael Griffin, Spanish and French teacher at Holy Ghost Preparatory School in Bensalem, Pa., until December:
Michael Griffin taught Spanish and French at an all-boys Catholic high school in Pennsylvania for the past 12 years, until he traveled to neighboring New Jersey and applied for a license to marry his partner of 12 years. The next day, Griffin was informed by the school's headmaster that his impending marriage "contradicts the terms of his teaching contract," according to NBC's Philadelphia affiliate.
"Today I applied for a marriage license since NJ now has marriage equality," Griffin said on his personal Facebook page December 6. "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 the TV station that his long-standing 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 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 the TV station. "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."
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 cover discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, according to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.