In yet another case of anti-gay discrimination in Catholic schools, Charlotte Roman Catholic diocese, North Carolina fired teacher Lonnie Billard (above left, with his partner Rich) after he announced his engagement on Facebook, reports the Advocate.
Before his dismissal, retired Billard had continued to work as a regular substitute teacher in Charlotte Catholic High School.
Although the diocese has claimed that the school made the decision, Billard has challenged this version of events:
“This was not a decision by Charlotte Catholic High School. I had talked with one of the administration officials. He knew [about the engagement announcement]. He didn't care. He said he knew me to be a good teacher and a good person.
“Apparently there were a couple teachers there who are super-conservative Catholic. They are not friends of mine on Facebook, but they found out about it and escalated it so it got to the diocese.
I knew the Catholic Church is behind the times when it comes to understanding and acceptance of gay people, but I thought with the current pope saying, ‘Who am I to judge?' that maybe things would be better, but apparently that's not the case.”
According to diocese spokesman David Hains, Billard was not fired for being gay but for violating an employment contract that prohibited him from opposing church teaching.
However, responding to objections from the diocese on the facts as presented by Qnotes, the Charlotte-based LGBT community newspaper stated:
“The violation of Billard's contract was his statement on his intention to marry. Without this statement, Billard wouldn't have been fired. Therefore, it is factual and accurate to report that Billard was fired because he is a gay man who announced his intention to marry his same-gender partner — an act the church calls ‘disobedience,' but which is also a fundamental human and civil right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, as recently upheld by North Carolina's U.S. District Courts and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.”
In March of last year, an assistant theology professor at Charlotte Catholic caused a furore – and a backlash from parents and students – when she claimed in a speech that homosexuality occurs mainly as a result of pornography and parents' shortcomings.
Watch a report on the case, AFTER THE JUMP…