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Gay California Teacher Fired for Marrying Longtime Partner: VIDEO


Ken Bencomo, a teacher at St. Lucy's Priory High School, an all-girls Catholic school in Glendora, California, was fired a week after news of his marriage to his longtime partner Christopher Persky was published in local papers, CBS Los Angeles reports:

Patrick McGarrigle, the attorney, said the school only fired Bencomo for getting wed.

“Their reasoning was that he had gotten married and it was in the papers. The school’s position was that it violated its teachings,” says McGarrigle.

School administrators declined to discuss the firing on camera. But they did issue a statement that read, in part, “We respect and protect privacy interests and, to be respectful of those involved, the school does not comment on confidential matters. St. Lucy’s wishes to reassure all in our community that upholding its mission to educate students in the tradition of the Catholic faith is of paramount importance.”

Bencomo has taught at St. Lucy's for 17 years. The school knew he was gay. It was simply the marriage that got him fired.


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  1. In a civilized world firing someone of being gay or marrying another man/woman is illegal. It is also illegal to ask, if the person is gay. In a civilized world. But in the Catholic world...

    Posted by: Matt26 | Aug 2, 2013 8:05:42 AM

  2. After 17 years of service thats just awful Is this the acceptable risk you take working for such a religion?

    Posted by: hotbeef801 | Aug 2, 2013 8:21:08 AM

  3. This is terrible. Gay men and women really need to stop f*cking with these private Catholic institutions - they're well within their rights to fire people who don't align with their religion, and everyone knows Catholicism is immensely and unapologetically homophobic. It's basically an inevitability that these people will be fired, and I can't imagine their work environment isn't hostile or at least terribly awkward in the meantime.

    Congratulations to him and his new husband though! I hope his happiness over his new union will overshadow the distress of losing his job and that he's able to find a new teaching position soon.

    Posted by: JMC | Aug 2, 2013 8:23:27 AM

  4. How sad is that? I feel ashamed to call myself a Catholic knowing that our religion provides a safe environment for the spread of bigotry, hate and injustice. I wish Ken and his partner all the best in their pursuits.

    Posted by: Rafael | Aug 2, 2013 8:42:32 AM

  5. I have some gay friends who teach music in catholic schools... the deal, it seems, is that they seem to have way better musical programs than other religious and public schools... I'd even speculate that 75% of all music teacher r gay (no evidence lol), but we only hear about the ones getting fired... it is sad, indeed.... and after 17 years one can presume they have a home and strong relations in their community, so relocating for a job may not be an option..... =-(

    Posted by: V-8 | Aug 2, 2013 9:10:38 AM

  6. Are all the hired teachers practicing Katholics? Was that a condition of employment? It's the wrong title, but is there a "Morals Clause" in his agreement?

    I feel sorry for him but there's also a part of me that thinks, why were you working for this heinous religious group for 17 years?

    Posted by: Pete N SFO | Aug 2, 2013 9:41:21 AM

  7. Same old bigotry and prejudice from the Catlicks institutions.
    Looking at this from a child safeguarding angle;
    Would have thought male and married to a same sex partner would have been ideal for an all girls school, given catholic institutions and sexual shenanigans an' all.
    Sorry you lost your job and hope you both have a long and happy marriage and you find a good new teaching position where you can be open and honest.

    Posted by: Kathryn | Aug 2, 2013 10:07:40 AM

  8. One of the risks of collaborating with the enemy. He gets little sympathy from me.

    Posted by: Merv | Aug 2, 2013 10:08:13 AM

  9. I am sure they fire all teachers who get divorced, right? And only hire teachers who are Catholics, right? Maybe they limit their faculty and staff to Christians - no Mormons, Southern Baptists or Jews allowed (Mormons and Baptists are not Christians, according to the Catholics).

    Posted by: CPT_Doom | Aug 2, 2013 10:08:38 AM

  10. That's awful :( Good luck to them! There are are still people who do not realize that you can legally be fired for being gay. And not just in the deep south.

    Posted by: Lucas H | Aug 2, 2013 10:15:34 AM

  11. There is really no hateful low the bigoted Catholic Church won't sink to. Having just gotten married a month ago myself, the idea of being fired from your job after 17 years just because you married your longtime love is truly evil. And this is in LA! Why are Catholics allowed to function like this in California?

    Posted by: Tim Miller | Aug 2, 2013 10:43:08 AM

  12. Pope Francis:"Who am I to judge?"

    Not working ...

    Posted by: newz4i | Aug 2, 2013 10:47:40 AM

  13. As a recovered catholic, I cannot understand how anyone would work for this institution anyway. I certainly would not give them my precious talent. I fired the church!

    Posted by: Peter | Aug 2, 2013 10:52:52 AM

  14. Divorce doesn't appear in the newspapers so by the PR standard of this diocese that would be okay. It's not the actual heresy, it's whether the heresy ends up publicized that they are worried about.

    Posted by: anon | Aug 2, 2013 11:01:18 AM

  15. So, "dont tell, just lie" is alive and well in the Catholic church, if you want to keep your job. Truly "who am I to Judge" is definately not working P.Francis.
    Well, we all knew it was a PR stunt, didn't we?

    Posted by: Kathryn | Aug 2, 2013 11:15:24 AM

  16. Their house, their rules... even if they are stupid rules. What did this dude expect?

    Posted by: tim b | Aug 2, 2013 11:16:23 AM

  17. Just make sure your local hospital(s) are not taken over by a catholic "charity" or institution - then your really stuffed.

    Posted by: Kathryn | Aug 2, 2013 11:19:35 AM

  18. This is just pitiful. After 17 years. It surely says that the Catholic church is still stuck somewhere in the 12th century.

    Posted by: PJW | Aug 2, 2013 11:42:27 AM

  19. Fine, then this parochial school should lose its tax exemptions. Only fair, right?

    Posted by: Phoenix Justice | Aug 2, 2013 12:17:38 PM

  20. Congratulations on your marriage. I expect that with 17 years in the field of education other doors will open for you, now that this door has been so rudely closed.

    Posted by: andrew | Aug 2, 2013 12:18:22 PM

  21. @tim b: What's expected is that this school, which is not a church, follow California employment laws, The teacher in question was teaching English, not religion, and never brought his personal life up in discussions with students. It claims to be a college-preparatory school. has an overview.

    This case is a clear example of discrimination based on sexual orientation: they do not fire straight people for doing exactly what this couple did - get married and end up with a wedding picture in a newspaper. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is illegal in California, including discrimination by employers.

    Posted by: Bill | Aug 2, 2013 2:27:43 PM

  22. You know, I think what the Catholic school did was reprehensible. But excuse me if I think that ALL gays and lesbians who are priests, nuns, monks, church organists, choir leaders, choir members, school teachers and coaches are complicit. If all the closted LGBT people working for the church and its associated schools came out of the closet and said, "I refuse to play your sick little game any more," the church would either have to change its policies or shut down. And either outcome would be preferable to what we have now.

    Posted by: Clayton | Aug 2, 2013 4:05:42 PM

  23. A gay man at an all girls school? The administrators should pray all the male teachers are gay. Have they learned nothing from the priest scandals?

    Posted by: Marco Luxe | Aug 2, 2013 4:44:00 PM

  24. Don't know how I feel about this one. I'm against gay marriage...but he didn't go to work announcing he was gay and marrying another man. It was in the paper (maybe he should have thought twice about allowing that to happen.) If this were an all boys school, that would be another issue...but seeing that it was an all girls school, though, he really wasn't much of a threat to the students.

    Posted by: Matt Kuksa | Aug 2, 2013 4:44:09 PM

  25. I'm for same-sex marriage, but I believe that freedom of religion should be respected. (I'm an atheist and personally think all religions are stupid) If this church school doesn't receive any public funding, then I'm fine with them having these rules because religions can hold whatever views they want, provided that in the terms of employment contract he knew that this could be a consequence. If however, they receive any public funding at all, then they have no separation from the state and need to follow its laws.

    Posted by: Joel | Aug 2, 2013 6:25:40 PM

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