Catholic Students Support Gay Marriage in Seattle


While most of us are getting ready for Christmas, a battle is ongoing in Seattle over the dismissal of Mark Zmuda, the Eastside Catholic School vice principal and coach who married his same-sex partner in violation of school policy and in breach of his contract.

The official statement from Sister Mary Tracey, president of Eastside Catholic, indicates that Zmuda’s departure was a mutual decision:

In meetings with Mark, he and I discussed the situation and, although he was disappointed, we reached an understanding that the correct action was for him to submit his resignation. I then met with Archbishop Peter Sartain to inform him of the situation and of my decision and he agreed with the decision.

The Seattle Times reports that upon hearing the news, students were upset about the ouster of the popular faculty member:

School authorities said they learned about two weeks ago that Zmuda had married his partner over the summer.

They met with him on Tuesday and, according to the school’s attorney, everyone present — including Zmuda — agreed that he couldn’t remain on staff because the Catholic Church opposes same-sex marriage. His last day at the school was Friday.

“Mark’s same-sex marriage over the summer violated his employment contract with the school,” the school said Thursday in a letter to parents.

When students learned about it Thursday morning, they staged a sit-in and rally that attracted wide media attention and prompted other area Catholic high-school students to show solidarity.

What started as a grassroots student protest at Eastside has grown. Other Seattle area Catholic schools have joined the demonstrations, and a petition started by an Eastside student entitled, “United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: Change the Roman Catholic Church’s stance on gay marriage” has gained over 20,000 signatures since it was posted yesterday. The protests have now gained international attention and thousands of media hits.

What is the takeaway from all of this?

At first glance, it’s somewhat surprising to note that many are ignoring the fact that the reason Zmuda was dismissed from his position was because of a contractual violation. As a Catholic School, Eastside had a clause in its employment contract which stipulated that faculty must follow Church teaching. That policy and legal obligation are being so conveniently ignored when they conflict with political correctness is troubling.

But this makes sense in the broader cultural context of the gay marriage debate. In America, it is no longer considered acceptable to have your own views on the matter. As many have noted this week in A&E’s decision to suspend Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson over his comments opposing the homosexual lifestyle in an interview with GQ, nothing less than total surrender on the issue is acceptable. Those who resist, even on the basis of religious conviction, will be treated as bigots and outcasts.

In Seattle, this has been distilled into a demand that the Catholic Church change its position on gay marriage. Nevermind that this is a perennial teaching not subject to change with the zeitgeist. The bastions must, yet again, be razed. In an editorialThe Seattle Times makes the agenda plain:

The students’ rebellion should provoke an institution that preaches compassion to also accept that individuals have a right to marry the person they love.

Sure, church doctrine is staunchly opposed to same-sex unions. And yes, Zmuda signed a contract to uphold Catholic teachings. But the ground has shifted significantly, from the Vatican to Sammamish.

The church has a history of selectively enforcing its own doctrine. Is Eastside Catholic now going to investigate whether its teachers use contraception?

Pope Francis himself illustrates the softening of doctrine. He was just named the Person of the Year by gay-rights magazine The Advocate after saying, “If a person is gay and seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge?”

This quote from Pope Francis showed up on the signs of protesters and in much of the coverage of the story as well, despite the fact that official Church teaching on homosexuality remains constant. But its use signals a shift in the debate, in which Catholic supporters of gay marriage see, however mistakenly, an ally in the pope.

Whatever happens in Seattle, this is a milestone, both in the fight over gay marriage and the ever-shrinking protections for religious liberty. If a discrimination lawsuit is filed, will the school’s First Amendment rights be upheld?

It is almost certain that this same battle will be coming to Catholic schools around the country as other teachers in homosexual relationships, emboldened by the support being shown for Zmuda, step forward.



39 thoughts on “Catholic Students Support Gay Marriage in Seattle

  1. M Haitz says:

    What surprises me most about this article is not that students in a Catholic high-school support so-called ‘gay marriage’, but rather that there are still people who think that Catholic high-schools actually teach the Catholic faith to their students.

    I’ve been teaching in a Catholic high-school for two decades and I can assure you that any students who both know and love the Catholic faith when they graduate have done so in spite of – not because of – their Catholic teachers.

    It’s with great reluctance that I must say that – in general – Catholic high-schools (as opposed to the elementary schools, which often do an exemplary job of imparting the faith) do much more harm than good.

    Unless a Catholic high-school EXPLICITLY promotes itself as being orthodox, then assume that it is not.

    1. ErnstThalmann says:

      “I’ve been teaching in a Catholic high-school for two decades and I can assure you that any students who both know and love the Catholic faith when they graduate have done so in spite of – not because of – their Catholic teachers.”

      And that observation extends to the life of the local parish where opportunities to offer anything more in the way of teaching on doctrine than that offered in the RCIA program are routinely spurned. I’ve offered a book study on Cardinal Kasper’s, The God Of Jesus Christ, an historical work on the dogma of the Holy Trinity, to 11 parishes in this diocese and have been turned down by the pastor in every case. These folks are more interested in control than in sating the intellectual curiosity of parishioners. If this study had been offered in a Protestant environment, it would have been taken on immediately. After a while you quit bringing your love to the Catholic Church.

  2. Tantum Ergo says:

    “Catholic” students in support of gay marriage – gross. No, call them what they really are – just students. They are no longer Catholic if they do not follow the Church, they are what is known as dead members. Truly the end is nigh. It will be as in the time of Noah, and it is.

    1. ErnstThalmann says:

      Where does that leave the Pope who can’t manage a teaching moment about homosexuality when it hits him in the face. One suspects that Catholic teaching is abhorrent to him and that he would prefer living in a world of his own where the mercy of God is the only relevant consideration.

  3. The moral dilemma is that the Church holds sexual intercourse to be wrong, not the sharing of benefits that involve money, privilege, stability, and so forth.

    People knew the guy was gay. Was that okay as long as administrators could pull the wool over their own eyes and hope he would convert?

    If Catholic morality needs to be expressed as public policy, then sexual intercourse outside of marriage needs to be outlawed. The problem is not high moral standards, but hypocrisy.

    1. Antonio A. Badilla says:

      Todd, who told you the Church holds sexual intercourse to be wrong, NOT within the context of marriage. As for the guy being gay, the Church does not reject the orientation, just the act.

  4. Julie T. says:

    In addition to prayer, there is one action faithful Catholics can and should take. Every time we hear or read Pope Francis’ words (“…who am I to judge?”) broadcast or published out of context, call out the offending media outlet with a phone call, letter to the editor, or e-mail. Remind them yet again that Pope Francis was responding to a question about one particular Church official whose past actions had caused scandal, but who had repented and was apparently living according to Church teaching. THAT is the part of the story the media and the larger secular culture steadfastly ignores, so faithful Catholics must be willing to be equally steadfast in sharing the ENTIRE context of Pope Francis’ remarks. When poorly-catechized Catholics repeat the half-told story, SHARE the rest of it with them. When they repeat the meme that Christ Jesus never spoke about “gay marriage,” remind them that He defined marriage as a SACRAMENT between a man and a woman in the Gospels and if He had intended to reveal something new, other than defining marriage as a sacrament, He would have done so, but He didn’t. Keep reminding them…and also pray for patience and a gentle spirit. We will all need it in this post-modern, post-Christian re-paganized age in which we live. A blessed and Christ-centered Christmas season to all!

    1. Patrick says:

      But Julie, civil marriage is different from the Roman Catholic sacrament of marriage. And isn’t that really the crux of the issue in the USA right now? The way Christ defined it is important only to Christians. Why should Buddhists of Hindus be bound by Christ’s definition of marriage?

      1. Thomas Peters says:

        Because marriage isn’t just a religious institution, it’s a natural institution. Marriage is marriage because of who men and women are not because of what faith they are.

        1. Patrick says:

          Thomas, that’s inaccurate, and insulting to the thousands of gay people married by churches (including the Episcopal church) and by civil authorities. Marriage is most certainly not a natural institution. It’s a social institution. First, as you know, marriage doesn’t arise by itself out of nature. It requires human thought, commitment, consent, action.

          And, if by “natural institution” you are referencing “natural law theory” and applying it to explain human marital relations, well, that fails to explain marriage because it amounts to circular reasoning. In short, NLT says that a marriage requires a man and a woman because a marriage requires a man and a woman. You don’t need opposite genders for a civil marriage.

          1. M Haitz says:

            Sorry Patrick, but Thomas is right and you are wrong…

            Marriage most certainly IS a natural institution: name me one – just one – society at any time or any place in recorded history that did not have ‘marriage’ by whatever name.

            Marriage is a natural – not just social – institutution, just as the family is a natural and not just a social institution.

            When you speak of ‘gay marriage’ in other ‘churches’, you remind me of a point that Lincoln once made. Apparently, he interrupted a meeting and asked his advisors this: “If you call a tail a leg, then how many legs has a dog?” to which they all replied “five”. Lincoln paused and then responded: “No, it’s four – calling a tail a leg doesn’t make a tail a leg.”

            Patrick, calling a homosexual-union a ‘marriage’ just indicates that, like Lincoln’s guests, you don’t know what the word means…how said for you, but the reality does not change.

          2. faithandfamilyfirst says:

            The Natural Law defines the concept of marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman because this structure is the only institution that provides for a stable society. Procreation is the basis for every society, and homosexual actions simply do not lead to the creation of the next generation. Homosexual relations are in this sense unnatural and disordered. This conclusion is not just a teaching of the Church; it is a teaching of basic biology, physiology, and evidentiary science.

            Thus, the Natural Law does not define marriage as the union of a man and a woman because marriage requires a man and a woman. The Natural Law defines marriage as it does because it is the only definition that accounts for psychology, physiology, biology, and all of the other ologies that describe humanity. To deny this is to deny the very science that today’s “progressives” champion as their only true sacred.

            Of course, the normalization of homosexuality is not a cause, but rather a symptom of the moral degeneration of our society. The so-called sexual revolution was the single most devastating event in the history of this country. From it has come a host of problems, the full effects of which we are just now feeling. For example, we are now living in the midst of the contraceptive mentality, which has convinced women that they are not truly empowered unless they neuter themselves, has caused a massive increase in breast cancer rates, and has devastated our environment with the poisoning of our waterways. Further, this mentality has produced the abortion epidemic, with its 55+ million (and counting) dead. In other words, this mentality has perverted the very nature of the sexual act, so it is not surprising that this mentality has given us the normalization of homosexuality.

            The fact that some religious have sanctioned homosexual relations is not proof that such relations are normal, but rather that the religious institutions that proclaim them are disordered. Further, it is not possible to declare homosexual relations normal without also declaring normal the whole host of sexual proclivities that today’s moderns (yesterday’s deviants) proclaim as their right. For example, there is a strong movement afoot to redefine child molestation as a normal outlet of human sexuality. It is not possible to declare homosexual relations normal without also affirming the normality of other sexual outlets, including such sexual relations with minors, as well as sexual relations among groups and sexual relations with animals.

            I am sure that you will protest that these abhorrent sexual activities are nothing like a homosexual relationship, but that misses the point. If the Natural Law does not define human sexuality, then mankind’s view must — and mankind’s view is perverted by the effects of original sin (a concept with which you will also undoubtedly take issue). In other words, if the Natural Law can be so easily dismissed, then the only standard that defines moral rights and wrongs is whatever is fashionable at the time. And if such fashions include child sex (which it has in other cultures from time to time), then those fashions will be considered the norm. It is not a matter of if, but when, such fashions become fashionable.

            So, if you are prepared to say that homosexual activity is normal, natural, and a right to be exercised whenever one sees fit, then you must also be prepared to allow for the expression of other sexual activities (lest you become the bigot that you believe the Church to be). For how can you demand that the Church permit the expression of homosexual activity while suppressing other sexual activities?

            We have not yet reached the bottom of the long, dark shaft into which we have cast ourselves. Millions have been devastated already, and millions more will be destroyed before we realize that the Natural Law is the only standard that can and should guide us. The worst is, as they say, yet to come. But it is never too late to pull ourselves out of the pit. There is Hope — and He is worth knowing.

          3. Sister Mary says:

            Patrick, When you live in the presence of God and if you live with the truth in your mind, then you are living in reality. When you have a living encounter with the truth, who is Jesus– He said “I am the way, the truth and the life”, – the media does not live in reality. The world does not accept Jesus — Jesus said all those on the side of truth hear my voice — you won’t hear his voice in relativism, or on the nightly news, but if you read the red letter edition of the bible, you will encounter the truth, the living encounter of Jesus Christ. The red letter edition ( New Testament with red letters being the words Jesus spoke) –

        2. James Bradshaw says:

          Then call it something else. I’m fine with “civil unions”. The point is that there are gay couples who wish to extend things like health benefits to their partners but cannot because in the eyes of the law, their partner may as well be a perfect stranger.

          1. Patrick says:

            Sister Mary, in reply to your December 30, 2013 at 10:15 pm comment (why is there no available reply feature there, by the way?) I can only say that I will agree to reread the bible if you will agree to read our marriage laws, including 200+ years of court decisions interpreting our marriage laws.
            Neighborly peace,

          2. Patrick says:

            M Haitz, in reply to your December 30, 2013 at 6:00 pm comment – thank you, you have made my point for me in your second sentence with the word “society.” Marriage is a social institution. How can anyone argue otherwise?

  5. Ann says:

    Totally agree, number 5. Some kids will always disagree with church teaching — it’s to be expected. But FEW of these kids seem to know even the BASICS of the faith. I’d say faithful parents should be able to sue for their money back for “false advertsing” as a Catholic school, because if “hundreds” of kids walked out – -that shows you it’s 80 grand down the drain for 4 years at this “catholic” school that doesn’t even impart the basics. That girl thinks the church is a cafeteria where we can pick and choose what doctrine we want to follow. Has no idea Jesus didn’t set up a church where you voted which of the 10 commandments you liked and didn’t like. She thinks it’s “the 10 suggestions.”


    1. ErnstThalmann says:

      How could I have known you’d show up here? :-)

      And here were looking at the lowest common denominator Catholicism that has resulted from lowest common denominator homilies and catechesis over the last few decades. But, then again, who am I to judge?

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