Monday, September 15, 2014

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Court Will Not Dismiss Lawsuit of Admin. Fired from Catholic School after Same-Sex Marriage

A judge has ruled against a Catholic school’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a former administrator who lost his job after his same-sex marriage became public, according to the National Catholic Reporter.

Eastside Catholic School in Seattle, Wash., filed a motion to dismiss former vice principal Mark Zmuda’s lawsuit citing its First Amendment rights, but Judge Catherine Shaffer of King County Superior Court reportedly said that allowing the case to continue did not interfere with the School’s First Amendment rights.

The law firm representing the School issued a statement vowing to re-file the motion to dismiss. "Mr. Zmuda's responsibilities were inextricably tied to the magisterium of the Church” the firm reportedly said.  “Although the Court was not permitted to consider Mr. Zmuda's religious responsibilities as part of its ruling, we will re-file our motion as a Motion for Summary Judgment so that the Court can consider this additional dispositive evidence."

The School has reportedly stated in the past that Zmuda had signed an employment agreement to act in accordance with the values and teachings of the Catholic Church. The School reportedly argued in its motion that by legally marrying his same-sex partner, Zmuda broke that agreement.

In its motion, the School’s lawyers reportedly argued that "the court does not have jurisdiction to adjudicate the plaintiff's claims without violating the First Amendment" and by hearing the case it would "impermissibly entangle the court in Catholic doctrine."

The Supreme Court decided unanimously in the Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC case in 2012, that the government does not have the right to tell a church who should be teaching its religious message. 

Zmuda's lawsuit reportedly argued that his job as an administrator was “unrelated to any religious practice or activity."

After Zmuda’s departure from the Catholic School, some students, reportedly with encouragement from Zmuda, created an online petition calling on the Catholic Church to change its teaching on marriage.

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