Nuptials Cost Missouri Man His Job

Welcome_letterCongrats to Al Fischer and Charlie Robin, who were married yesterday in Central Park, in New York, on the occasion of their 20th anniversary. 

Here's hoping the ceremony was lovelier than the circumstances preceding it. Fischer and Robin live in Missouri, where Fischer for years taught music at a Catholic school (St. Ann) and served as part-time music director at a Catholic church (St. Rose Philippine Duchesne). He was always open about his sexual orientation, and about his relationship with Robin. As the couple prepared to fly to New York for their ceremony, Fischer announced his plans at a school staff meeting. There was applause.

But one fellow in attendance, a representative of the St. Louis Archdiocese, probably did not clap. He reported the news of Fischer's impending nuptials to his superiors, and the next day Fischer was fired. 

From the Times:

Two weeks later, after news of his firing made headlines, he was terminated from his second, part-time job as music director for the Roman Catholic church where he and his partner, Charlie Robin, have worshiped for more than six years.

“I didn’t expect any of this,” said Mr. Fischer … “I didn’t understand it would be, ‘click, you’re done,’ but it was.”

Fischer's firing prompted a storm of protest from parents at St. Ann's, but it did no good: Fischer had previously signed a statement promising to never take a "public stand" against church tenets, and marriage was considered such a stand. (Fischer has long served as the director of a gay men's choir; why that never counted as a "public stand" is unclear.) Fischer reports that his former colleagues have been supportive. From the Times:

Even with his firings, he received nothing but support from the pews. Even of the people who fired him, he said: “These are good people in a tough situation, having to toe a particular line. If they supported me they’d be making a statement against the tenets of the church. They signed the same witness statement that I did.”

Fischer has already received offers of employment from a secular school, where he'll begin teaching next semester. In the meantime, he and Robin are enjoying their weekend in New York; this evening they'll take in a performance of Priscilla: Queen of The Desert.


  1. atomic says

    The naked bigotry and hypocrisy of the Catholic Church is a virulent disease of the mind that must be eradicated from humankind.

    Yes, fire someone for marrying his partner, but rape children repeatedly and all you need to do is confess your sins while your superiors shuffle you around so you can inflict your evil on others.

    The corruption is so blatant, I have no words to describe it. It is the very definition of pure evil and those who perpetuate it must be removed.

  2. coolbear says

    What’s going on these days is unbelievable. A religious institution is permitted to constrain free speech, and punish a staff member for exercising entirely legal freedom of association and entering into private contracts; a Catholic diocese closes homeless shelters because they’re piqued about civil rights legislation that doesn’t affect them in any way–but the public controversy on TV and the Internet 7 days a week is about the terrible threat to freedom of religion when a hospital allows its employees to opt for contraception. The main Catholic candidate for the presidency says John F. Kennedy’s view of the relation of church and state makes him want to throw up. (That’s weird enough, but weirder, it’s Jefferson and Madison’s view, too, of course.)

  3. Alex Parrish says

    Congratulations to this couple on their marriage and their 2 decades together. Frankly, this sort of thing happens all the time in the Roman Catholic church. It just usually goes unreported.

    As a professional church musician — at a supportive protestant parish — I remain mystified that so many of my colleagues work so devotedly for a church that hates them. My council to friends (when opportunity arises) is to find a nice protestant parish which appreciates not only your skills and devotion, but also your personhood. About half end-up doing so and the other half remain in parishes where they serve at the whim of bigotry. Strangely, like the folks in this story, they all seem surprised when some word or gesture or photo or news story excites the bigotry and they are tossed-out. They never seem to see it coming. Best wishes to Fischer and Robin but a word of unsolicited advice; the Roman Catholic Church hates you; no matter what some of the good well-intentioned priests and loving parishioners tell you, the Roman Catholic church hates you. Get out. If you need a church home, look beyond the borders of Rome — you will NOT go to hell for this no matter what the pope says.

  4. says

    I am very proud that Al has stepped forward. I say this because so many in our community recede, walk away, and say nothing because they don’t want to make an act of discrimination against themselves a public issue. Not because they aren’t aggrieved but because it is so prevalent that speaking out seems useless. It isn’t by any means.

    Discrimination against gay people has always been “acceptable”. I’ve mentioned my gay neighbor before so I’ll do it again. He has nearly 30 years of Federal service and up until 2005 he could have easily been fired for simply being gay. Today he works in an office of extreme homophobes who control his work life. Despite his talent and amazing skills they deny or ensure he is never considered for a promotion. Legally he hasn’t a leg to stand on because there are no gay protections in the Federal government. Sure, overt name calling is frowned upon but indirect daily discrimination is very much tolerated.

    This man has devoted nearly 30 years of his life to helping the American people and if his superiors are able to do it, they will eventually degrade, belittle, humiliate him to the point of leaving. And now at 65 he will be forced to go out and find work outside the Federal government because what little retirement he has been able to garner at his low salary for these last 30 years, will be barely enough to pay his rent.

    Discrimination against gay people has to stop. It just has to.

  5. Eyes For Guys says

    Reading stories like this really disgust me about the Church. I am Catholic, by the way. So often humans behavior is based on fear rather than heart. Man this sucks.

  6. enough already says

    I disagree with one aspect of this story: With certainty, the colleague clapping the most enthusiastically was the one who couldn’t wait to turn him in.
    That’s what christians are all about. Hatred and betrayal.

  7. Isaac says

    All I want to say is congrats. He’s happy, with another job, and his man. He handle the situation as he should with dignity and respect from his peers. Congratulations and I applaud you. Not every issue is an problem. The Catholic church has been the same for years. The fact the he was open about his sexual orientation and still hired at St. Ann’s and worked there for years is more amazing than him being fired for a technically. Congrats once again XoXo MWAH!!!

  8. FFS says

    Really? He didn’t see this coming?

    Forgive me if this seems callous, but apparently gay Christians live with their heads buried in the sand, just like the straight ones.

  9. Angela Channing says

    It amazes me how swift the disciplinary process is for gay folks in a church affiliated organization but it takes decades to root out sex criminals. In fact, the church has fought against reporting laws and has taken actions to protect their internal documents from law enforcement.

    The collapse of the Catholic Church in the U.S. is going to come quicker than we think.

  10. says

    I have to agree with @PeterParker. We have an acquaintance, he’s gay and has had a partner for several years, and he is most proud of being a “Catholic Christian” and devoted to the Church. He bristles when anyone speaks against the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church.

    I ask myself why would any gay person want to support such an organization?

  11. says

    the reality is this – regardless of how one feels about Organized Religion in general there are indeed specific denominations that promote not only LGBT-inclusivity and love and acceptance, but those same things for non-Christians, or those with different beliefs and walks of life.

    so… it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to continue supporting the specific organizations that continue to promote EXclusivity.

    there is nothing Uniquely Good about the Catholic Church, or the LDS for that matter, that is not also done by other denominations, or non-religious groups. MANY other groups and organizations have all the same Good Things with NONE of the bad.

    it’s like going to the mall – two stores sell the same great jeans. one store uses child-labor. the other doesn’t. WHY choose to shop at the store that profits from illegal child sweat-shops?

    and to those who are going to continue to insist, perhaps, that their individual congregation is not bigoted – DO something about the Bigger Problem.
    sure, go every sunday – but leave that collection plate empty. better yet, leave a note in place of a cheque that explains why you’re no longer giving money. encourage your fellow non-bigoted congregational members to do the same.

    Big Religion is a BUSINESS – it operates as a business and this means it can be used against them. Businesses do what they have to to remain in the green – if you won’t leave the church, or stand up to be counted, at least give your chosen religious group a reason to rethink their ways by denying them any more financial support.

  12. Dale says

    After such treatment. I would NEVER do anything Catholic as long as I remained on this earth. Remember, it is they who shunned you that have lost.

  13. Boone68 says

    Religion is a choice, and I find it difficult to believe that gays and lesbians continue to subject themselves and their families to the willful hatred and harm of those who justify their bigotry by the bible. There are countless Christian “catholic like” faith communities who would welcome them with open arms. I used to be a Catholic who belonged to the very liberal and welcoming Newman Center. I, too, felt loved and accepted among my fellow parishioners and my parish priest. When I grew up and wanted to get married, the institutional discrimination hit me upside the head like a sledgehammer. My spouse and I now have three small children, and we would never expose ours to an organization whose leaders teach that gays are committing child abuse simply by being loving parents to their kids. I wonder what Al and Charlie were planning to do if they decided to have kids. How would they feel after watching countless baptisms only then to find out that their own kids would not be able to share that sacrament with their faith community? Exit stage left and good riddance. There are good people everywhere and many faith communities will celebrate their family rather than discriminate against it.

  14. Heh says

    I honestly don’t see the problem. Let the Catholic “schools” fire their qualified teachers for violating sharia law. Eventually, they’ll either close up from a lack of teachers or become such jokes of educational institutions that nobody will send their children there.

  15. Rich says

    I’m getting tired of this “tolerance of religious beliefs” crap. Let’s see: in the past several weeks, the Catholic Church has had to choose between (a) providing a respectful and caring funeral to a parishoner and exercising its bigotry against gay people, and chose exercising its bigotry against gay people; (b) providing parents to children in need through adoptions and exercising its bigotry against gay people, and chose exercising its bigotry against gay people; (c) providing a quality education from a good teacher to students and exercising its bigotry against gay people, and chose exercising its bigotry against gay people; and (d) funding a homeless shelter run by a person who happens to be in favor of marriage equality and exercising its bigotry against gay people, and chose exercising its bigotry against gay people. So, apparently, it is more important to the Catholic Church to exercise its bigotry against gay people than (a) to provide pastoral services to a grieving family; (b) to adopt homeless children into loving families; (c) provide quality education to students; and (d) feed and house the homeless.

    Who needs that kind of church?

  16. Kevin thor says

    These two men sure are dumb. That they cling still to the Catholic Church is pathetic. Grow up boys renounce The hate group called The Catholic Church

  17. Billysees says

    Many of the above comments are very true and well spoken.

    Let’s not forget though that many of our most sympathetic and loving friends are from that church.

    In the end, when all is said and done, I think we can say that overall “Catholicism is a power for righteousness and good”.

    Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven — it’s gonna take a while for that to happen. And love too.

  18. says

    It’s time to start taxing religious institutions and not allow tax write-offs on U.S.Income and State Taxes. The biggest hate groups here in America and around the world seem to have religious roots. There should be
    National Pink Triangle Day… and all gays and their friends should wear them, and we will find out who our real friends are. In the movie, The Magic Christian… there is a board game and someone asks “When can there be world peace?” and the answer is “Not until the last Cathedral is torn down!” The Catholic Church is shrouded in hate, and it’s time to make them change their ways, and the best way is to eliminate their tax write-offs at once.

  19. Onnyjay says

    How many more times will these dotty old coots in fancy dresses insult the intelligence of the people they pretend to care about? “Judge not, lest you be judged.” Still sound advice from an unimpeachable source.

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