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North Carolina Catholic School Fires Gay Teacher Who Announced Engagement

North Carolina Catholic School Fires Gay Teacher Who Announced Engagement

Lonnie-and-rich-x400

After announcing his engagement on Facebook, a gay man is barred from being a substitute teacher at a Catholic High School in Charlotte.

A gay North Carolina man has lost his job at a Catholic high school after he announced on Facebook that he and his partner were engaged.

According to the news report from LGBT media outlet QNotes, the Charlotte Roman Catholic diocese said that it was the administration of Charlotte Catholic High School that decided to fire Lonnie Billard, a retired teacher who before his dismissal had continued to work as a regular substitute. Billard told QNotes that that was not the case. Here is an excerpt from the remarks Billard made during the qnotes interview:

"This was not a decision by Charlotte Catholic High School. I had talked with one of the administration officials. He knew [about the announcement]. He didn't care. He said he knew me to be a good teacher and a good person. ... Apparently there were a couple teachers there who are super-conservative Catholic. They are not friends of mine on Facebook, but they found out about it and escalated it so it got to the diocese. ... I knew the Catholic Church is behind the times when it comes to understanding and acceptance of gay people, but I thought with the current pope saying, 'Who am I to judge?' that maybe things would be better, but apparently that's not the case."

QNotes notes that the same diocese fired a gay music director following his nuptials a few years ago. More recently, a gay Catholic music director in Illinois was fired for the same reason; he subsequently filed a discrimination complaint.

Last year an aspiring gay priest distressed by anti-LGBT discrimination at Catholic institutions left the church and issued an open letter to Pope Francis on the issue.

"Members of my community -- lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgendered and queer/questioning men, women and youth -- have been neglected ... Your prophetic question 'Who am I to judge?' encourages people everywhere to have a non-judgmental attitude towards members of the LGBTQ community," Benjamin Brenkert wrote in a guest post on the blog of New Ways Ministry, an LGBT Catholic organization. "But being non-judgmental is not enough; especially when Jesus tells us to be like the Good Samaritan and 'Go, Do likewise.' ...

"As an openly gay man, I've spent the past 10 years pursuing the priesthood in the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). I am full of gratitude for this time. I loved being a Jesuit, a son of St. Ignatius of Loyola. This July, I left the Jesuits in good standing.

"Today, I can no longer justly or freely pursue ordination to the priesthood as a gay man in a Church where gay men and lesbian women are being fired from their jobs. The last straw for me was when a married lesbian social justice minister was fired from a Jesuit parish in Kansas City."

Following the publication of the QNotes story on Billard, the Charlotte diocese reportedly objected to several facets of the article; editor Matt Comer fired back point-by-point in an editorial.

Billard and partner Rich Donham plan to marry May 3.

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