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Catholic school fires gay teacher who gets married

July 31, 2013 at 6:03 PM

GLENDORA, Calif., July 31 (UPI) -- A Catholic school in California fired a man who had taught there for 17 years after he married his longtime partner, the teacher's lawyer says.

Attorney Patrick McGarrigle said St. Lucy's Priory High School in Glendora told Ken Bencomo, 45, he was fired because his marriage to Christopher Persky, 32, "violated church teachings," the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reported Wednesday.

Sister Helen Dziuk, assistant principal at St. Lucy's, initially said the school's attorney, Joseph Stark, would handle inquires. Stark said Sunday he could not comment because he had not seen the allegations by Bencomo and his lawyer.

St. Lucy's subsequently issued a statement saying the school "is a community for those who wish to express Christian values in education and develop personal and academic excellence."

Supporters of Bencomo say the school fired him after he was featured in a newspaper story about his July 1 wedding.

McGarrigle said the school "has known of Mr. Bencomo's orientation for years," and school administrators had met his partner in the past.

John Andrews, a spokesman for the Diocese of San Bernardino, said its 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."

About 2,000 people have signed an online petition protesting the firing.

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