When Is the Line Crossed? A Reaction to a Gay Teacher Being Fired For Getting Married

by: Jimmy Garfield

“I like my beer cold, my tv loud, and my homosexuals flaming.”

–Homer Simpson (who apparently isn’t Catholic)

I learned recently about a teacher at a Catholic school in Missouri was fired from his job because he planned on getting married to another man.  Al Fischer had been a music teacher at the school for four years; and it wasn’t exactly a secret that he was gay and lived with another man.  After all, they appeared together at church and school functions, and were even shown as a couple in the parish directory.

So what was so offensive?  Well, it seems that every employee, when hired, had to sign a contract that officially stated that they would not publicly display any position contrary to the Catholic Church, and two men getting married was just too far.  Now, maybe I’m the only one, but I’m really confused here.  Is the Catholic Church saying that it doesn’t care about homosexuality, just about gay marriage or gay sex?  Is it saying that, “Well, maybe they’re just really good friends… who live together… and like to hold hands…” until there’s a ring involved?  They must actually believe that because they’re not married that they’re not having sex!

I guess that’s my main problem here:  I don’t know where the line is that the Catholic Church holds.  And apparently neither does its teachers.  After all, there were no problems among the faculty and staff with the wedding announcement.  It wasn’t until the Archdiocese heard about it that there was an issue.  Suddenly people are losing jobs over it, children are losing teachers over it, and parents are losing a valuable resource over it.  And yet, aside from a ring, nothing had changed.

Would the Church be so quick to take this action against everyone?  Social Experiment:  If two straight men, who loved women, decided to get married so they could receive tax benefits, would the Church fire them as well?  If the teacher and his partner had never said a public word about it, but were married anyway, would the Church still have fired him?  What I’m asking is:  Is it the marriage or the people?  I certainly hope for the Church’s sake that they would take the same action against the straight men, because after all: Job 15:34 For the congregation of hypocrites shall be desolate, and fire shall consume the tabernacles of bribery.

To his credit, the teacher has maintained his dignity and grace through the whole ordeal– far more than I would, in the same place.  He has not gone about making any public statements.  He hasn’t threatened to sue the school or archdiocese.  He simply wrote an email to the parents at the school explaining what had happened.

From his letter:

A family conversation about whether or not justice was served here could be a great thing.  I do not want the lesson from this for the kids to be, “Keep your mouth shut, hide who you are or what you think if it will get you in trouble”. In a just world, uncomfortable truths need to be stated. Unpopular stands need to be taken. Just look at Martin Luther King. Just look at Jesus.

He encouraged them to have their children continue singing, to welcome a new music teacher with open arms, to let them know that he wouldn’t be a stranger.  And then gave a wonderfully shameless plug for the upcoming show that the gay men’s choir he is the artistic director for was putting on.

I know that the Archdiocese might be the keeper of Christian doctrine, but in this case, I think they have severely missed the teachings of Christ.  Pay heed, Catholic Church, Proverbs 11:9 A hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbor: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.

Jimmy Garfield is a DePaul University graduate in Communications.  A full-time political guru who worked in politics for 5 years, he now gets paid in the IT field.  He reads more than is good for him, and loves having somewhere to vent his outrage at the world.

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