Not only was the spokesman’s statement a lie, but it also reportedly violated the terms of a confidentiality agreement between the archdiocese and the teachers, freeing their attorney to reveal the truth.
And that is precisely what the attorney did, telling KUOW on Thursday that the archdiocese “wanted their keys and wanted them to be gone.”
The resignation of the teachers, Paul Danforth and Michelle Beattie, made national headlines, and sparked massive protests led by students at Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien, Wash. Both Danforth and Beattie had recently become engaged to their partners, which led to the archdiocese’s decision.
“Ultimately, this has been looming over them since November,” said their attorney, Shannon McMinimee. “So while it may have felt very abrupt to the students and staff at Kennedy, Paul and Michelle had been going to work every day for three months, not knowing if they’d be fired the next day.”
McMinimee added that “it was made clear to them from the beginning that once they were honest about being engaged and gay, that their employment was no longer compatible with Kennedy Catholic.”
In the wake of McMinimee’s comments, the archdiocese finally came clean.
“Those who teach in our schools are required to uphold our teaching in the classroom and to model it in their personal lives,” Archbishop Paul Etienne said in a statement. “We recognize and support the right of each individual to make choices. We also understand that some choices have particular consequences for those who represent the church in an official capacity.”
Mike Prato, president of Kennedy Catholic, also admitted to his role in the sinister plot.
“I wanted to make sure [Beattie and Danforth] felt supported, and so we discussed several options including the possibility of finishing out the school year,” Prato said. “We gave them the option to select the date they wanted to resign, and they indicated they wished to resign prior to the winter break in February. We worked with them to arrive at a mutually agreeable transition plan and financial package to assure they would be supported in their transition.”
McMinimee says Danforth and Beattie have no plans to take legal action.
“They hope that this sparks a greater discussion of change with respect to, how is the diocese going to enforce these provisions?” she said. “Are they only going to enforce them against people who are in same-sex relationships? Or are they going to consider other options, including having teaching contracts that are not the same as ministerial contracts?”