Ken Bencomo, English teacher at St. Lucy's Priory School in Glendora, Calif., until July:
Ken Bencomo taught English at St. Lucy's for 17 years — until July 1, just days after the Supreme Court dismissed California's Proposition 8 on a technicality, returning marriage equality to the Golden State. In its course of reporting on the landmark decision, a local California newspaper ran a front-page article about marriage equality, featuring a photo of Bencomo and his husband.
Despite an outpouring of support by alumni, faculty, and current students, Bencomo swiftly was told by school administrators that his marriage violated the Catholic Church's teachings, so he had to be fired.
"While the school does not discriminate against teachers or other school employees based on their private lifestyle choices, public displays of behavior that are directly contrary to church teachings are inconsistent with these values," school officials said in a statement released to the press. "These values are incorporated into the contractual obligations of each of our instructors and other employees."
More than 92,000 people signed a Change.org petition launched by St. Lucy's alumna Brittany Littleton, who contends that the school was aware of Bencomo's orientation long before the newspaper published the photo of him and his husband.
"As a proud alum of St. Lucy's, I am hurt and saddened by this blatant discrimination against Mr. B.," Littleton said in a statement in August. "No one should be fired for marrying the person they love. Along with current and former St. Lucy's students, I look forward to taking this message, along with 45,000 signatures, directly to my alma mater. It's the Christian thing to do."
Littleton and her fellow supporters of Bencomo attempted to hold a silent protest of a school board meeting in September, according to the Glendora Patch, but were refused entry by officials who claimed the meeting was open only to parents of St. Lucy's students.