Pennsylvania Catholic school teacher fired for gay wedding

School administration says faculty members' contracts require them to follow church teachings

An unidentified man in a file photo holds up a flag during a rally for gay marriage, Wednesday, June 26, 2013, on Independence Mall in Philadelphia
Matt Slocum/AP

A teacher at a Roman Catholic high school in suburban Philadelphia has been fired after obtaining a New Jersey marriage license with plans to wed his same-sex partner.

Michael Griffin was fired Friday from Holy Ghost Preparatory School after administrators said the move violated his contract.

Father James McCloskey, the school's headmaster, issued a statement saying faculty members at the school are required to follow church teachings, NBC Philadelphia reported.

The headmaster said Griffin's decision "contradicts the terms of his teaching contract at our school, which requires all faculty and staff to follow the teachings of the Church as a condition of their employment. In discussion with Mr. Griffin, he acknowledged that he was aware of this provision, yet he said that he intended to go ahead with the ceremony."

Griffin, who graduated from the school and has taught French and Spanish there for 12 years, said his relationship with his partner of 12 years was not a secret from the school and that his partner had even been to McCloskey's house.

Griffin lives in New Jersey, which became the 14th state to recognize same-sex marriage in October.

In 2012, the Supreme Court dealt with a similar case in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC. The court held that a ministerial exception prevents the government from interfering with a church's ability to hire or fire those it regards as ministers, including teachers. On the question of discrimination, the ruling said that the First Amendment "protects a religious group's right to shape its own faith and mission through its appointments," and "prohibits government involvement in such religious decisions."

Al Jazeera and The Associated Press

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