Michaela Jae Rodriguez
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Gay Teacher Fired After School Notified of Wedding to Partner

Matthew LaBanca

A gay man lost his jobs at a Catholic school and a church weeks after marrying his husband.

Matthew LaBanca said in a YouTube video that he had been fired from teaching at St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy in New York City as well as from being the music director at Corpus Christi Church on October 13.

He said he was terminated because someone told the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn about his wedding in August.

“A diocesan committee of high-ranking officials met for almost six weeks, something unheard of, to discuss the fate of my employment and to answer the question ‘Should Matthew be allowed to remain at his jobs?’” LaBanca said. “The answer turned out to be no.”

LaBanca accused Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of being the mastermind behind his firing. In the video, LaBanca said he was offered a severance package but turned it down due to having to sign away the right to discuss the firing.

“So I’m stripped of both of my jobs, all of my employment, my health insurance, and most importantly stripped of the communities — the daily community life that has meant so much to me — not because of my work performances, not in the slightest, but because I’m gay,” LaBanca said.

A petition in support of LaBanca has already received almost 4,000 signatures, and a GoFundMe to support him has raised $3,500. 

A spokesperson for the diocese sent a statement to TV station WNYW that said, “In [LaBanca’s] case, it has been determined that he can no longer fulfill his obligations as a minister of the faith at either the school or the parish.”

“Despite changes to New York state law in 2011 legalizing same-sex marriage, church law is clear,” they said.

While city and state antidiscrimination laws prohibit terminations based on sexual orientation, the Associated Press reports that religious institutions are protected to do so based on religious beliefs.

However, a federal judge in North Carolina ruled in September that a Catholic school wrongfully fired a gay substitute teacher after he announced his plans to marry his partner in 2014.

U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn ruled against Charlotte Catholic High School, Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools, and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Charlotte. The judge wrote that the teacher’s termination violated the teacher’s federal protections against sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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