School Fires Gay Teacher After He Applies For Marriage License

An openly gay teacher who was on staff at the Holy Ghost Preparatory School in Pennsylvania for 12 years was suddenly fired from his job yesterday – the same day he and his long-time partner applied for a same-sex marriage license.

WPVI reports:

GriffinMichael Griffin says he emailed the principal of Holy Ghost Prep earlier in the week saying he may be late Friday, that he was applying for a marriage license. After an in-service day he says he was called into the office of School President Father James McCloskey, along with Principal Jeffrey Danilak. Griffin explains, "He said, 'It's not really a secret here that you're gay.' I said, 'Correct.' He said, 'I assume this is a same sex marriage.' 'Yes.' He said if I go through with it, he had no choice but to terminate my position."

In tears, he left. His over a decade-long tenure at Holy Ghost was over. "I really didn't think that it would happen. At our school we talk about it's a community our motto is 'One heart, one mind.'"

His partner, Vincent Giannetto, tells Action News, "We applied this morning and on the same day he's fired from his job. So it kind of flipped things upside down for us."

Holy Ghost is an all boys Catholic high school located in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.

Griffin has started to receive support from all across the country. He took to his Facebook account to show his appreciation:

“Thank you to everyone for all of your messages of love and support since yesterday. It is so overwhelming and my heart aches over everything that has happened. Holy Ghost helped form me to be the person that I am today. Even though I am no longer employed there, I wanted to share their mission and philosophy, because I feel like I have tried to make it my life's philosophy as best I can, even now. I am trying to move forward with a peaceful heart and wish nothing but the best to my colleagues and students who mean the world to me.”


  1. Ken says

    Sorry… but why would a gay man teach at an all catholic school and then be surprised when he’s fired? I know it’s not right, but… Come On!

  2. Hal says

    Why are our taxpayer dollars being given to subsidize a religion that fights against and discriminates against us? In many states, Catholic schools receive federal lunch support and technology assistance. My state also gives them free textbooks. The time has come for us to demand that these bigots be removed from the taxpayer’s dole.

  3. Nick says

    I don’t see why everyone gets so upset with Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptists because it’s pretty damn obvious that most of Christianity also believes that ‘God hates fags’, but they don’t say it, they just fire people and discriminate against them however they can. In actuality, their ACTS of cruelty and repression are much worse than the Phelps’ mere words.

  4. Joseph says

    This is the iron fist of Catholic bigotry in action. Whenever I read an article about a shameful action taken against good, dedicated people by the RC hierarchy , I remind myself about the all-too-real disgrace of the various Catholic scandals that keep unfolding. Having recently seen “Philomena”, I’ve learned of a new one: baby trafficking for profit.

  5. Roger says

    Why would a gay or lesbian teacher want to work for a RC school in the first place? Tenure means nothing if the price is your queer soul. There are other schools, public and private, where they could live happy, fully actualized lives and be valued as educators.

  6. peterparker says

    I have very little sympathy for any gay person working within a Catholic institution who cries foul when the bigots fire their ass. What did they expect…that the haters would suddenly see the light and throw them a party?!

  7. FFS says

    He’s just lucky he’s a grown man. That “principal” might have tried to touch his bathing-suit area.

  8. robroy says

    Ughhh!!! Vote number 205 for WTF do all these people think this won’t be a big deal at a Catholic institution. Hell- Notre Dame just sued over birth control being in health insurance policies.

    Hell the all religious schools is to discriminate against those who are either not of t afford are either not of the faith or cannot afford tuition. So discriminating against gays really is par for the course.

  9. escapes me says

    The Church is “obsessed” with gays. “Who am I to judge?” Someone, can’t put my finger on it, mentioned this.

  10. Mike Ryan says

    Now here, in this forum, we have the cry of why was he working at a Catholic school and why are our Federal Tax dollars being used to fund such a school and a call for them to be stopped. But we won’t call for an end to our funding and the funding by American sponsors of the Sochi Olympics.

    You can’t win for losing.

  11. Ethel says

    “Who am I to judge” was a simple shrug of ‘his’ shoulders and a goy Meh!

    That’s why nothing has changed.

  12. Bill says

    @Ken: I could possibly see some rational for
    terminating him if he were teaching religion, but what about math or physics? Saying you can’t teach physics because you are gay and are getting legally married puts this Catholic institution on a par with Nazi Germany, where the political types didn’t want anyone using “Jewish physics”. So when the guys working on their atomic bomb project needed to use the equation E=cm2 to calculate the amount of energy that would be released, they had to make sure the idiot political types didn’t notice. Since the idiots didn’t understand physical laws, this was not hard to do. Probably writing the equation as E=mcc would have been enough.

  13. Bill says

    Note: the equation that appeared as E=mc2 was written using an HTML element that should have turned the ‘2’ into a superscript – apparently Towleroad’s software strips off HTML elements but leaves what is in between. Someone was not thinking.

  14. Matthew says

    For those saying that they have no sympathy for someone who works for a Catholic school, realize that it’s not all that easy to get a full time teaching position in the school of your choice. His choice to stay there may have had to do with salary and location, which are both valid concerns. Let’s not forget the fact that he was pretty much “out” since he started teaching there. They didn’t have a problem with him being gay. But being gay and married was a bit too much, apparently. I can definitely empathize.

  15. andrew says

    Griffin can’t be so dumb that he didn’t know that taking such a public stand against Catholic teaching would cost him his job. Gay people who work for the Catholic Church, and that includes the majority of her priests, know that they have to live on the DL. If you become too public about your homosexuality or divorce and remarriage etc, you will lose your job. If Griffin has his State Teaching Certificate, and with his 12 years of experience he should be able to get another teaching job. There are a lot of great Public School Districts that pay more money, have better facilities and are not bigoted like the Roman Catholic Church.

  16. Sargon Bighorn says

    There is no such thing as a “Same-Sex Marriage License” Please make a note of it.

  17. john patrick says

    It’s screwy, messed up, and just plain wrong that gay teachers get fired from RC schools when they get married. But it will continue to happen as long as the RC Church condemns same sex relationships and activity. And they are not going to change soon. It took almost two millennia for the RC church to condemn slavery. They still discriminate against women.

  18. TonyJazz says

    This is another example of why I left the Catholic church.

    It has the morals of the US Confederacy…..

  19. UFFDA says

    This guy sounds like such a sweetheart, maybe a little naive, but very special all the same. Best luck, and you’ll have it, making a better life for your and your new husband. And congratulations, you did the right thing, they did the wrong thing.

  20. Jim says

    So Michael Griffin was the only person in North America who didn’t know that the Catholic Church opposes gay marriage? Hello? Nobody is that clueless.

  21. Andy says

    Can’t everyone be a bit more sympathetic for him? He’s the kind of teacher little gays need to HAVE available in a Catholic school. Maybe he was happy with his students and colleagues. Yes it’s not that surprising, but there are plenty of reasons why someone might work in an environment with LGBT-unfriendly policies.

  22. oncemorewithfeeling says

    You lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas. Why would any human being who respects themselves have anything at all to do with the Catholic Crime Cartel, let alone be in their employ as one of their henchmen? He should never have worked for them in the first place.

  23. Me Cago En La Hostia says

    I’m sorry that he has to endure this trauma, but to be honest he sounds like a bit of a drama queen. Who calls up the headmaster of a conservative Catholic school and says, “Oh I may be late on Friday. My boyfriend and I have to go pick up our same-sex marriage license!” without knowing there’ll be repercussions. And then exits tearfully?

    Toughen up, Mary. Stop playing the victim. You don’t have to ask anyone’s permission to get married, you just DO it. And have a good legal team at the ready when they find out and fire you. But you don’t ask permission. And you don’t let them know your plans.

    Hit them where it hurts. Again and again and again. Catholics are bullies, but Catholic priests are pu$sies.

  24. Gerry says

    It’s sad the man lost his job but wasn’t he really naive to believe that he could be openly gay and married working for a Catholic school? Everyone knows the Catholic Church is anti-gay. It’s leaders have viciously fought against gay rights.

    I understand why a person would work at the school. Folks have bills to pay.

  25. brian1 says

    I wouldn’t say it quite as harshly as Me Cago en la Hostia, but the part where he emails the headmaster does strike me as a call for attention. I think ordinarily people would take a day off to get married, and I’m sure there are normal procedures for that that don’t involve emailing the headmaster and certainly don’t involve explaining why.

  26. Lexis says

    @KIM – They probably didn’t fire him previously, because they made the “assumption” that he was a good, celibate gay and did not pry much into his private life, kind of like Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. The church keeps saying that being gay is okay as long as one is celibate. That’s what I would guess. Anyway his plans to marry a man changes that, because now they have to make the assumption that he’s having sex. – jmho

  27. m says

    if you work at a catholic school you kind of expect them to have a policy that wouldn’t be very supportive of a same sex marriage. they frequently speak out against it. why would anyone think that if you do something that your employer strongly disapproves of and you make sure to tell them you are doing it that you will still have a job? did he really think they would change their policy just because they liked him? obviously it couldn’t have been a surprise. he didn’t have to work for a catholic school.

  28. Bob says

    It’s very simple:

    “We need you until the time comes when keeping you embarasses the bishop and the older parishoners”

    I am a bit incredulous that these guys did not notice all the other cases of catholic schools firing longtime, known Gay teachers for marrying or letting newspapers know they have a relationship.

  29. says

    The irony here, as it is with many of these Catholic-school firings, is that they knew he was gay and were fine with it for 12 years, but as soon as he wants to join in a committed union, he’s evil and must be terminated. The message they send to their students, some of whom are or will be gay: the dark closet is the place for you; try to make a family and we’ll cut you off.

    It’s the ongoing sickness of the Catholic Church: honesty and openness are the sin. Keep it covered up, even when it’s their priests molesting kids, all is well.

  30. simon says

    It is after all a business. They are concerned that the “devout parents” would complain even if the Church suddenly changes their message on this issue. You kind of expect those sheeps will be confused and go their own ways.

  31. Protect Us From Your Followers says

    Can you imagine what the reaction would’ve been when he tried to sign his partner up for employer-provided health insurance? The catholic “church” doesn’t want to provide insurance plans that cover birth control, let alone health insurance for same-sex partners. Can’t you just imagine their indignation at having to cover medical treatment for a sexually transmitted disease? Or HIV?

    This is why “religious protections” should not apply to religious-affiliated schools, hospitals and catholic-owned business. The religionists try to use the guise of “religious freedom” to impose their religious beliefs on everyone else, NOT just in churches, but in all aspects of society that they infect.

    Law-abiding, tax-paying citizens need legal protections from abusive institutions like the catholic church.

  32. Rob says

    It’s been said that “Every we needs a they.” Catholics have to define themselves by something, and all that theology nonsense is a little dry. Gays are spicy, gays are everywhere, and bullying them is something they can rally around. The Catholics need the gays.

    Definitely need laws that keep people from firing based on sexual orientation and the schools can either follow those laws or close. Can they fire Jews and Mormons who teach in their ranks? Atheists? Sagittarians?

  33. Don says

    Not surprised at all. There’s a Catholic church north of Atlanta who recently fired their young organist for being “out” on his Face Book page. (this story was all over the local TV news) The same church has unmarried staffers shacking up with their girlfriends.

  34. Bill Perdue says

    The solution to ani-LGBT bigotry is the active suppression of anti-LGBT hate mongering by cults like the catholics, mormons. evangelicals and others and the passage of an inclusive Civil Rights Amendment detailing protections against discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations and with vigorous provisions against hate speech and hate crimes and especially robust punishments for violators and those who promote violations.

    Democrats and Republicans will never do that. Socialists operating in a workers state will.

  35. Sean N. Brown says

    I would have fought for my position. No way in Hell would I have allowed those bastards to wrongfully terminate me the way he did. Although, because they hired him when he was openly gay it might be difficult for him to prove they fired him because of his sexual orientation.

  36. dizzyspins says

    I feel terrible that this seemingly nice, caring man was so mistreated, but as many have said, he couldnt have been surprised.

    And the fact that he made a point to say he’d be late because he was getting a marriage license makes me think he mightve planned this.

  37. AL Gatore says

    Of course Michael Griffin knew that the Catholic Church opposes Gays and Gay Marriage. He knows exactly what he is doing so sensationalize this issue. He is freak of nature and should be treated as such.

  38. David Johnston says

    I don’t think the school should get away with firing someone for applying for a marriage license, but surely he noticed that he worked for a homophobic and sexist institution. It seems that discrimination and hate speech are okay until there is a direct impact on his daily life.

  39. BobN says

    This is why “religious exemptions” need to be fought. There’s no reason a teacher of secular subjects at a Catholic school should be fired for getting married.

  40. RonCharles says

    There are several Christian churches that do not discriminate against gays:

    The Episcopal Church

    The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

    The Metropolitan Community Church

    The Presbyterian Church

    The United Church of Christ

    Maybe religious gays should give their time and money to these churches and, furthermore, work for their schools and institutions, and not those of the Catholic Church.

  41. Paul R says

    Don’t miss the part about it being an all-boys school. I’m sure that played a big part in its efforts to avoid repercussions from parents and higher-ups. The school might have known he’s gay, but thought that he took it public—a step too far. They’d rather play to bigoted stereotypes and stay in business than look at their own flailing hypocrisy.

  42. I wont grow up says

    It sounds as if he was almost daring the school to fire him. No one (as someone else said) is that clueless. I know that the parochial education is certainly better than the public one (especially today) because I had one. But the catholics have never been particularly accepting of the gay lifestyle (except in their priests), what did he expect. This has all the earmarks of a test case proposed by a lawyer looking to make a name for himself. This certainly doesn’t make the school exempt from our condemnation but it’s possible he wasn’t out or they never thought it mattered until he pushed the wrong button on their tolerance machine.

  43. Paul R says

    A few people have mentioned fighting the church using the law. Only an idiot lawyer would take that case, because there is no law. The law specifically exempts churches. They can do whatever they want, and will even when ENDA passes.

    It’s not like the guy in CO who refused to bake a cake. It’s the damn church, and it’s a losing battle until the US realizes its supposed goal of separating church and state—and that’s going to take a while.

  44. David says

    It’s called needing a job, folks. Do you think the economy is so great right now? And if the school kept him on for 12 years and knew he was gay, why did they suddenly let him go. Is it that easy to find good physics’ teachers?

  45. Raybob says

    The THREE Episcopal Diocese’ that I have been a member of all deny the use of the approved same-sex union blessing liturgy to its gay members because of the beliefs of that Diocese’ bishop. Almost identical statements went out in their letters to parishioners, “Even though this liturgy has been approved, it will never be used here in MY Diocese”. Tell me that’s not discrimination.

  46. Bill says

    If you look at the original article (see Towleroad’s link above), you’ll find the statment, “Holy Ghost is a private all boys liberal arts Catholic high school. It’s not part of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.” IMO if it is not part of a religious organization, it should not get any sort of religious exemption. Either the law needs to be tightened up, we need court decisions, or maybe a presidential “signing statement” to the effect that the religious exemption should be interpreted as strictly as possible and not provide a transparent excuse to skirt the law.

    The school’s policy, according to the same article, includes the statement, “hat, although, the School welcomes teachers from other denominations and recognizes their rights to religious freedom, as employees of a Catholic institution, all teachers are expected to uphold lifestyles compatible with the moral teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.” Note that the policy says, “expected to”, not “required to”, and legally there is a world of difference between “should” and “must”. So I’d hope the school gets its you know what sued for wrongful termination. It is not like they got a civil license, hired the world’s best makeup artist, and tricked a Catholic priest into a performing a church wedding.

    I might add that the Catholic Church is on very weak theological grounds on this whole issue. When asked (apparently as a trick question) if they should pay taxes to the Romans, Jesus asked, “whose picture is on the coin?” When they said, “Caesar’s”, Jesus replied, “so give unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.” In reality, those tax denari paid for whatever the Romans thought were useful, including building temples for worshiping Roman gods. And Jesus (according to the Bible) had no problem with what would become Christians paying for that. Given that precedent, what’s the problem with an employee of a school not even part of the Catholic Church spending his tax dollars on whatever legal activities he chooses?

  47. Bill says

    Some more information: according to the teacher taught French and Spanish and had been in a long-term relationship with his partner. They both went to school functions (for staff), so the school knew (a) that he was gay, and (b) that he was in a long-term relationship. Surely they couldn’t possibly believe that two individuals, one of whom had nothing to do with this school, were celibate.

    The one and only issue was the marriage license – a purely civil matter – basically a standard contract that provides various rights and responsibilities. So, apparently he was fired for filling out a government form and paying a small processing fee.

    I think some should ask the Catholic Church’s “Who am I to judge” pope about it – did he mean what he said or is he just another hypocrite spouting for PR purposes? Inquiring minds want to know.

  48. CPT_Doom says

    I can totally understand why Griffin thought the school would be cool with his marriage. After all this “moral” church continues to participate in the largest criminal conspiracy in the history of the human race. Once an institution has aided and abetted rapists, obstructed justice through witness intimidation & payments of hush money and defrauded both its insurers & members, why would anyone believe it would follow its own rules.

    The church has also proved remarkably loose with its own doctrines when it suits them. Newt Gingrich & his current whore were allowed to “marry” after their multi-year adulterous relationship, not to mention his lifetime of cheating. With “moral” examples like that, who can blame Griffin?

  49. Rick says

    Another GREAT confirmation of my decision to be de-baptised from the church! BUT Priests molesting students is AOK! I think/hope Pope Francis would object !

  50. Bud Clark says

    @Roncharles: yes, there are still a few anti-gay dinosaur bishops in the Episcopal Church.

    But knowing how General Convention works, it will probably go the same way as women priests and bishops: first there was a “conscience clause” to exempt conservatives, to give them a chance to leave, retire, or die; then there wasn’t.

    I’m running through the list in my head … Dallas, Ft. Worth, Central Florida, Albany … aren’t those bishops all elderly?

    I don’t know how many years ++Katharine Jefferts Schori has as Presiding Bishop, but the conservatives will (probably) never again muster the votes to elect a conservative Presiding Bishop.

    It’s JUST as likely that once the same-sex marriage liturgy is inserted into the Book of Common Prayer and/or The Book of Occasional Services, the NEXT Presiding Bishop just MIGHT say,

    “It’s an approved liturgy of the Church; permit its use, or resign your See.”

    GENERAL CONVENTION (Provincial Synod) is the supreme governing body of the US Episcopal Church, and THEY have said that LGBTQAI people are EQUAL in the sight of God, and are eligible to receive ALL the Sacraments, including Matrimony and Holy Orders.

    One CANNOT baptize LGBTQAI folk and then say, “Oh, we have a two-tiered Baptismal Covenant; YOU can only receive the Sacraments to which we (grudgingly)admit you.”