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US: Catholic school’s gay vice-principal says he was fired

School president suggested Mark Zmuda end his marriage to save job

Former Eastside Catholic High School vice-principal Mark Zmuda (right) and his husband, Dana Jergens. Zmuda was fired from his school after he married Jergens. Credit:

The former vice-principal of a Catholic high school in Sammamish, Washington, says in an interview with a student that he was fired because he violated Catholic teachings by marrying his male partner, Seattle's KING 5 reports

Mark Zmuda's dismissal sparked protests Dec 19, with Eastside Catholic High School students walking out of class or not bothering to show up, chanting, "Keep Mr Z" and "Change the church." It was reported that students in other Catholic schools in surrounding cities staged sit-ins and other forms of protest in solidarity with Eastside students.

In the interview with Caterina Crittenden, Zmuda says that, contrary to previous reports, he didn't resign, but was fired. 

"To set the record straight, I was terminated," he tells Crittenden. Zmuda says he inquired as to whether he was being dismissed because of a breach of contract or poor job performance and was told that those were not the reasons for his termination. "They said it was because I was married to a man."

An attorney for Eastside, Michael Paterson, had said Zmuda resigned after the school found out about his marriage.

An Eastside school official noted that teachers agree to adhere to Catholic doctrine, which includes opposition to same-sex marriage. But at least one student, who referred to the new pope's more conciliatory language regarding gay people, is quoted as saying that being Catholic "doesn't mean I need to believe every rule the Church has."

KING 5 also learned that school president Sister Mary Tracy suggested to Zmuda that he end his marriage to save his job.

There are reportedly plans for another round of student protests at Eastside Catholic school Dec 28.

During last year's American election, Washington State was one of three states that voted in favour of gay marriage.