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Gay Former Vice Principal Mark Zmuda Suing School That Fired Him: VIDEO

Mark Zmuda files lawsuit

Late last year Eastside Catholic High School vice principal Mark Zmuda was given a choice: divorce his husband or be fired. Zmuda refused to sacrifice his marriage for his job and was let go. Rather than being some incident kept quiet and swept under the rug, students and faculty of ECH loudly protested the unjust treatment, protests which kept going even into the new year and ultimately drove the school president Sister Mary Tracy to resign.

The school's problems with the incident are far from over as Zmuda is now filing a lawsuit against the school and the Seattle Archdiocese for discrimination and wrongful termination. The Archdiocese has already drafted a motion for dismissal, claiming that Zmuda knew his marriage - much like the divorce, which Jesus condemns in Matthew 19:3-6, that they tried to force him to get - went against the teachings of the church. However, prior to Zmuda's termination the ECH website stated explicitly that (bolding mine),

Eastside Catholic School does not discriminate on the basis of an employee’s or applicant’s race, religion, creed, color, sex, age, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation or any other status or condition protected by local, state or federal law.

The statement has since been removed from the school's live website, but everything lives forever on the internet.

The lawsuit was filed today, and you can see King 5's news report on the story

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  1. Hot silver daddy. I know, politics, fired, etc - but still, hot silver daddy.

    Posted by: Tigernan | Mar 8, 2014 9:25:12 AM

  2. Never expect anything worthwhile from the Catholic church. Just go away, be away, stay away.

    Posted by: Joel | Mar 8, 2014 9:30:32 AM

  3. The school is sending a letter to all of the parents about this - which I am sure won't read AT ALL like "we're just exercising our faith and the mean gay man won't let us take away his job despite the non discrimination clause (which we tried to hilariously hide on our web site)" - right?

    Posted by: Tigernan | Mar 8, 2014 9:32:05 AM

  4. I hope the Church has to write him a BIG check!

    Posted by: jimbo | Mar 8, 2014 9:51:10 AM

  5. Good. Hopefully, this is the case that finally makes it clear that all businesses that are not churches themselves cannot discriminate. This is the next church/state battle after civil marriage. When operating outside of the doors of it's churches, religions should respect civil law. If they can't, don't open schools, colleges, counseling centers, hospitals or any other businesses.

    Posted by: woody | Mar 8, 2014 9:54:55 AM

  6. Even if he loses, it won't be in vain - the church will have to show its true, homophobic face to the public.

    Posted by: Eugene | Mar 8, 2014 10:02:57 AM

  7. I am sorry but those saying that his isn't a church simply aren't correct. A religious school states clearly that its purpose is to provide a religious education. I think as some point we need to realize that if we decide to work for religious institutions that we risk losing our jobs.
    I am the product of 12 years of Catholic schooling, and in my opinion, the fastest way to create an Atheist is to give them a religious education.
    So I do not say this for religious reasons, but for political ones. A religious school is indeed an extension of the church, the service they provide is clearly stated as an education in religious doctrine. Advocate, including myself, have said for years...we don't want to be part of your religious institutions, and here we are all claiming a right to force ourselves into that space.
    A Catholic school isn't a bakery or a photographer, or a hotel refusing service.
    Part of equality is responsibility, and if we seek employment from religious institutions whose texts condemn us, that's our fault. He took the wrong job, period, we have all done it...move on. Forcing a Church is fulfilling all the paranoid conspiracy theories about how we want to force churches to accept us. That is exactly what this man is trying to do, and we shouldn't support it. Leave the churches to themselves, they will die soon enough, but this is just wrong.

    Posted by: Chris | Mar 8, 2014 10:07:13 AM

  8. Chris, I would agree with you, but as many have pointed out (and honestly, could you do just a little research about things that are well discussed?), they themselves had a non discrimination clause about sexual orientation, fired him when he got married, and then tried to hide that they had had such clause.

    Posted by: Tigernan | Mar 8, 2014 10:12:32 AM

  9. And as I have repeatedly said, the Catholic religion needs to have their tax exempt status revoked and the entire organization banned from the United States. It is nothing more than a cult of bigots indoctrinating naive individuals into believing what amounts to pure fantasy.

    Posted by: Mike Ryan | Mar 8, 2014 10:16:13 AM

  10. Actually @Chris, it looks less like he took the wrong job than that they made the wrong firing. If they're in violation of their own non-discrimination clause, they set themselves up for this.

    As for church vs. school--Catholic schools aren't churches. At many of these schools (many of which are good schools), the hierarchy is minimally involved, the staff doesn't harbor the same prejudices and many don't conform to Catholic teachings, and certainly the students don't. They wanted VP Zmuda to stay.

    So schools like this have a choice: they can lose the next generations by keeping their heads in the sand, or they can accept the reality of same-sex families. (That doesn't mean any church has to perform marriages of same-sex couples.) In this case, they may have legally shot themselves in the foot, but even if they hadn't they can't lock the doors and ignore the will of their students forever.

    Posted by: Ernie | Mar 8, 2014 10:29:17 AM

  11. @Chris

    When they teach math, is it still "an education in religious doctrine"? Or are they using religion as a cover for bigotry?

    Posted by: Eugene | Mar 8, 2014 10:45:25 AM

  12. Religion is the mafia of thought, and in this case, not unlike political disinformation. The catholic church is a malignancy on society.

    Posted by: woodroad34d | Mar 8, 2014 11:51:35 AM

  13. There is a big difference between being gay and being sexually involved and married to someone else of the same sex, according to Roman Catholic doctrine. You do not sin by being sin by having sex outside of marriage (and marriage being the way the church defines it).

    This lawsuit is a silly. He knew the church's position on matters of sexuality, and the distinction made between being gay (which isn't against church doctrine) and being sexually involved and "married" to someone of the same sex (which is against church doctrine).

    Posted by: Jon | Mar 8, 2014 12:04:05 PM

  14. @JON - what's silly is the idea that a school can dictate whom its employees can marry!

    Posted by: Vint | Mar 8, 2014 12:28:27 PM

  15. Your comment would have more merit @Jon if the school's own non-discrimination policy didn't include sexual orientation and marital status and if Catholic schools and colleges didn't already apply Roman Catholic doctrine loosely in terms of staff and students. (I know of married gay faculty who teach with no issues at Catholic institutions.) Does anyone really believe that heterosexual staff follows all Catholic doctrine? Of course not. He has a case, and he has the support of his students--nothing silly about that.

    The silliness is the out-of-touch Catholic hierarchy. Given their own misdeeds, they have no moral ground to stand on, yet they're determined to keep up the DADT philosophy that got so many priests in trouble. Lay Catholics recognize that open gay families aren't the problem, the secretive closet is. Whatever the outcome of the legal case, the student protests tell the real story, and it shines an ugly light on the hierarchy.

    Posted by: Ernie | Mar 8, 2014 12:32:00 PM

  16. I thought Catholics were against divorce.

    Posted by: deke | Mar 8, 2014 12:39:18 PM

  17. What the school did is disgusting, but legally-speaking, this fine man has no case. I expect a quick dismissal. Hopefully, the day will come when people dismiss the Roman Catholic Church, too.

    Posted by: Chris L. | Mar 8, 2014 12:42:27 PM

  18. Aren't Catholic Schools supposed to be accredited by the state? Take away their license to teach. Put 'em out of business--they're still a public vendor and have to abide by certain laws; they aren't that protected by their bigoted philosophies.

    Posted by: woodroad34d | Mar 8, 2014 12:54:06 PM

  19. Woodroad34D - There is not a single court in this country that is going to rule that a Catholic school must accept gay men as teachers. It isn't going to happen.

    Posted by: Chris L. | Mar 8, 2014 12:59:05 PM

  20. @ChrisL: I wouldn't be so sure.

    In firing Mr. Zmuda the school violated their stated non-discrimination policy (which included both sexual orientation and marital status) as well as their handbook statement that "Eastside Catholic School does not discriminate with regard to an employee or applicant on the basis of any status or condition which is protected by an applicable law."

    Furthermore, the school administration told him his marriage was none of their business and that he had their full support (until the Archdiocese got involved). The school isn't accredited by or incorporated with the Archdiocese; it operated separately from them.

    So there is a real question as to which rules have legal authority--the school's/state's or the hierarchy's. He may lose, but it's hardly and open and shut case--certainly as time goes on the hierarchy will have to adjust or become obsolete.

    Posted by: Ernie | Mar 8, 2014 1:15:58 PM

  21. He worked for a Catholic institution. Surely he knew their policies while when went to work for them. This is like jumping into the fire and complaining about getting burned.

    Posted by: Mark | Mar 8, 2014 1:25:27 PM

  22. Divorce? Why? He wasn't married by the Catholic Church so how could they even recognize it as a marriage. So is the C. Church now saying non-Catholic marriages are valid?

    Posted by: Andrew | Mar 8, 2014 1:44:16 PM

  23. @Mark- No, this is about an employer sticking to their non- discrimination policy.

    Posted by: tim | Mar 8, 2014 3:23:14 PM

  24. This goes to the same argument I've been making for ages, if they have to obey non-discrimination laws then they have to obey non-discrimination law. The mere fact of the statement being on their site proves they knew they had to obey the laws. If the archdiocese then over-ruled those known laws, then the real issue is with the arch-diocese overstepping its control. Again, a religious person or organization claiming it doesn't have to follow the law. As soon as it starts a 'business', in this case running a school accredited by the state it has to follow the state laws. If they are running an evening school at the church to teach new recruits the rules that is different, if they are running a school for the education of children in the lay world they have to follow the law. Period. Exclamation point. Underlined. I hope he wins a big one. I'm tired of religions claiming they have a "Get Out of Jail Free" card because they are religion. As soon as they have commercial activities they need to compete equally in the commercial world. No exemptions.

    Posted by: Steven Jaeger | Mar 8, 2014 3:25:46 PM

  25. I believe in freedom of association and in a perfect union any employer can hire, refuse to hire, or fire for any reason. But there is an issue of equal application here. Since this same school would not likely get away with firing someone who married a Jew (Catholicism requires both husband and wife to be Catholic) or an atheist - then this is discriminatory in a way that is not acceptable in context.

    Posted by: enchantra | Mar 8, 2014 10:28:25 PM

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