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Court Issues Decision Following Firing of LGBTQ+ Teacher

January 11th, 2022

Students at Fuller Theological Seminary are being expelled if administrators learn they are married to someone of the same sex.
An Indiana appellate court issued a ruling in a case initiated by a man who was fired from his job as a teacher at a Catholic high school.

An Indiana appellate court issued a ruling in a legal proceeding initiated by a man employed as a teacher at an Indiana Catholic high school following his termination. The teacher was fired from Cathedral High School because he was in a same-sex marriage, which sparked a debate about the rights of LGBTQ teachers in Catholic schools. The court’s ruling found that the teacher could continue his case and have his day in court. 

How the Case of the Fired Teacher Arose

The teacher was employed by Cathedral High School, a Catholic school. The teacher taught both social studies and world language for over a decade before he was terminated from his position in 2019 after he married another man who was employed as a teacher at a nearby Jesuit school.

The termination happened after the Catholic church required all Catholic schools in the state to follow a clause that prohibits workers from entering into a same-sex marriage. 

While the teacher at Cathedral was fired from his position, the Jesuit school declined to terminate his partner from his teaching position. This caused the archdiocese to try to strip the Jesuit school of its identification as a Catholic high school. The Vatican then intervened in this decision.

The teacher initiated his proceeding in 2019 and accused the archdiocese of interrupting his agreement with the church. The teacher also argued that the archdiocese was improperly granted the power to require the teacher’s termination because his contract to provide teaching services was made with Cathedral High School instead of the church. The teacher’s lawsuit was later dismissed due to trial court regulations, which the appellate panel states were improperly used to dismiss the case. 

The Appellate Court’s Ruling

The unanimous ruling by the Indiana Court of Appeals panel reversed a decision by a Marion County, Indiana court dismissing the man’s lawsuit against the Indianapolis Archdiocese. 

In overturning the previous decision, the appellate court sent the teacher’s case to another trial court. This decision received substantial support by advocates for LGBTQ+ rights. A spokesperson for Lambda Legal commented that the teacher simply wanted a chance to argue his point in court and that the court has held that the teacher will now receive this opportunity. 

Response to the Appellate Court’s Decision

A lawyer on behalf of the archdiocese commented that the Supreme Court has routinely ruled in a manner that preserves the right that Catholic schools are afforded under the Constitution to terminate teachers who violate the school’s agenda. Indeed, this blog covered this issue in a post from last month.

Other Cases With Similar Issues

This case is just one of many examples of teachers at Catholic schools being terminated due to same-sex marriages. Also in 2021, a music teacher was terminated from his position at a Catholic school in New York following his marriage to a man. This case, however, is still pending and a petition gathered substantial support in favor of the teacher.

Documenting Same-Sex Rights Cases

The 2015 Obergefell decision legalized same-sex marriage throughout the country. Many aspects involving the rights of same-sex couples, however, remain unresolved. Each month, the Universal Life Church’s blog focuses on documenting the most noteworthy of these cases. We strive to document matters in a way that objectively examines both sides and which can be easily understood by readers.

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