California Allows Gay Marriage, but School Doesn’t

Rally and Online Petition for Fired Gay Teacher

A popular English teacher at St. Lucy’s Priory High School in Glendora, California has been fired not for incompetence, but because news of his same-sex wedding went public.  The teacher, Ken Bencomo, 45, married his partner of 10 years, Christoper Persky, on July 1 in a civil ceremony at San Bernandino City Hall of Records.  They were among the first gay couples to wed after the Supreme Court struck down Proposition 8 in California.

The pictures of the wedding, accompanied an article about marriage equality, were in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin on July 1st and created quite a stir with the Catholic private high school’s administration which employed Bencomo.  Just days after the newspaper photos appeared, this head of the English Department, a Rancho Cucamongo resident, was fired because “his marriage violated the Catholic church’s teachings based on Roman Catholic tradition. Gay marriage goes against the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Bencomo vs. St. Lucy’s Priory High School

Bencomo was told on July 12 by the school that his teaching contract for the fall would not be renewed.  Bencomo’s lawyer Patrick McGarrigle contends that the school knew Bencomo was gay for at least ten of the seventeen years he taught as he brought his partner to school functions.  Bencomo may sue the school.

Although the school purports that “it 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.”  The Catholic Church does not consider homosexuality a sin per se, but only if you act on it.

Rally Planned for August 4 to Reinstate Teacher

Former St. Lucy’s student Brittany Littleton, describes Bencomo as a “beloved mentor, confidant, and educator.” Littleton, now 23, launched a petition that has garnered 45,000 signatures.  She will deliver the petition at a press conference on August 8th at the school where former and current students as well as faculty will gather to show support for Bencomo in a peaceful rally.