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When gay marriaige meets employee law in Catholic school employment

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Today, Michael Sean Winters submitted a column in National Catholic Reporter giving his views, as nuanced as they are, of the decision of East Side High School in Washington State to fire a Vice Principal who was married to his same-sex partner. You can read his piece here:

Here is my response: The gay community has every right to be disdainful of the Church, given the behavior of Catholic hospitals in denying access to long time companions at the request of families and in hopes that the dying person may convert and renounce the relationship. This was and is poppycock. What scares the Church is that the families of gay couples may demand religious blessing to civilly contracted gay marriages (which is all a wedding Mass is anyway - the Sacrament itself is made by the couple before God). What scared the Church even more is that a largely gay clergy (such as the principal at the High School) might offer such blessings regardles of the wishes of the bishop - or even more scary that priests may demand such rites for themselves - or seek them instead of the priesthood.

While at-will employment rules generally protect the Church from not being able to fire gay employees, perhaps they should not. Teachers are not ministers. Indeed, if they were they could say Mass in the High School chapel. Hosanna Tabor offeres some protection - but I doubt they would consider lay teachers and nuns to be in the ministerial caste - at least if they were answering honestly rather than obediently. This is another case where the Employent Non-Discrimination Act is sorely needed - and without a religious exemption (the votes of the panderers are not needed for passage nor would they be given anyway). More importantly, the key test is whether the High School (or Catholic Church employers everywhere) consider civily married spouses equal to relgiously married ones - even though civil marriage itself is considered sinful - at least for Catholics. The extent to which that is the case is the extent to which Eastside High School's action is pure and simple homophobia - and that is a sin.



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