In the wake of the Supreme Court decision overturning Proposition 8, a California man was fired from teaching at a Catholic high school after a local newspaper in southern California, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, ran a story and published a video of his same-sex marriage to another man.
Ken Bencomo had taught at St. Lucy’s Priory High School for more than 16 years. According to NY Daily News, Bencomo’s lawyer, Patrick McGarrigle, said that Bencomo was told by a school administrator that he was losing his job because his same-sex marriage was “in public and violated the Church’s teaching.”
According to NY Daily News, the school released a statement to the media saying that while St. Lucy's "does not discriminate against teachers or other school employees based on their private lifestyle choices, public displays of behavior that are directly contrary to church teachings are inconsistent with these values."
McGarrigle claimed that St. Lucy’s school administrators“were aware that he was in a same-sex relationship" and that school officials had actually met his partner in the past. According to DailyNews.com, John Andrews, a spokesman for the Diocese of San Bernardino, reportedly told the media that Catholic schools do not discriminate based on lifestyle choices but "if a teacher or school employee makes a public display of behavior that is counter to church teaching — such as homosexuality, sex outside of marriage, having a child outside of marriage — that can impact their employment status."
A petition has been created at Change.org calling the school’s decision “an act of prejudice” and urging the school to reverse its decision. It describes Bencomo as “a beloved mentor, confidant, and educator” and points to his work with the Yearbook, dance team, and English department as reasons to reverse their decision.
“I believe that Mr. Bencomo deserves to keep his job, and that discrimination against teachers based on their sexual orientation must end,” reads the petition created by alumnus Brittany Littleton. “I am joined by many students and alumnae in saying that we believe this is a fight for love and equality, and as such we wish to display love and kindness, even while feeling hurt and shock.”