Court gives go-ahead for lawsuit from gay swim coach fired from Catholic school in Seattle

  52 Jared Anderson | May 26th, 2014 | High School, Lifestyle, News

Mark Zmuda, the former teacher and swim coach at a Seattle-area private school who was fired after publicizing his same-sex marriage, will be able to proceed with his lawsuit against the school, a court ruled this week.

The King County Superior Court of Seattle heard a motion to dismiss Zmuda’s lawsuit, but chose to reject the motion, the National Catholic Reporter reports.

Zmuda’s suit is against both the school that fired him (Eastside Catholic High School) and the archdiocese of Seattle. According the the NCR, the archdiocese has claimed it doesn’t have administrative control of the school, and was not involved in Zmuda’s firing. But documents filed by Zmuda allege that the school had originally told him his same-sex marriage was “none of their [the school’s] business,” and that he was only fired after Archbishop J. Peter Sartain met with school officials. Zmuda’s documents also allege that the firing decision was made by Sartain and not the school itself.

The major point of the case hinges on the exact nature of his position with the school.

Zmuda’s attorneys are arguing that his job as a teacher and swim coach were administrative, and disconnected from any religious activity. The school cites its employee handbook, which emphasizes that all employees are to follow Catholic teaching and doctrine in every aspect of their job. The Catholic Church does not condone same-sex marriage.

This is just one early step in what will almost certainly be a long, appeal-driven legal process, as the case could have major implications on future employment discrimination suits against religious institutions.

You can find the full Catholic Reporter piece here.

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52 Comments on "Court gives go-ahead for lawsuit from gay swim coach fired from Catholic school in Seattle"

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Ironically, holy ****. Did this article ever bring out the Bible-thumpers or what? It scares me that in this day and age, of information, of attempts to try and give equal rights to everyone, that there are still those who cling to the Bible so sadly and desperately that they refuse to see anything beyond their blinders. Get over yourselves. You people clinging to the ******* “timeless truths” of the Bible, which, for all you know, was written by some damn hobo and managed to get passed down over the centuries. We even have a commenter up above, “Brian M,” who can’t even acknowledge another poster with respect, even going asofar as to make a quip about his being an… Read more »
SOUTHERN CATHOLIC
The school did not fire the man because he was gay. The Church does not hate gay people. It accepts and loves all sinners. The issue then is not homosexuality, it is MARRIAGE. Marriage is a sacrament – performed by a priest, between 1 man and 1 woman for life, for the procreation of children – the formation of families for the existence of society. The sacraments cannot be received by those who are in a state of grave sin. Therefore there are many Catholics, with same sex attraction, who choose to live a chaste life in order to remain in a state of grace and be able to receive the sacraments. This is the belief of the Catholic Church.… Read more »
If your interpretation of marriage is accepted then a partner in a heterosexual marriage performed by a justice of the peace could be fired. Further, if a marriage was child-less – either by choice or circumstance – then, too, a partner could be fired. I do wonder how the School Board will defend itself here. Church teachings won’t cut it, I don’t think. And the whole idea of an employment contract is tough, too, because you can’t sign away your rights. As a point of interest, there is modern precedent for religious doctrine to change when faced with a legal challenge: Back in the early to mid ’70’s, a black person could not be a member of the Mormon Church.… Read more »

Oh no the IRA! . Except just now they are under investigation themselves & may be complicit in election manipulation by targeting X groups to financial disadvantage . A possible outcome will be a rehaul of all tax exempt status . Imo church activity would not survive this onslaught .

You may get your wish .

Maybe that should be the IRS . An honest mistake honestly 🙂

SOUTHERN CATHOLIC

A civil union is not recognized as marriage in the Catholic Church, therefore any relations would be viewed by the church as outside of marriage and not appropriate. If your said teacher broadcasts his actions as acceptable and appropriate, he would probably face consequences. If he is quiet, his job is probably ok. Your example of Mormons is not comparable. All are welcome in the Church. Violating a sacrament is different. The Church has not modernized in 2000 years b/c the truth is timeless.

“If your said teacher broadcasts his actions as acceptable and appropriate, he would probably face consequences.” No they wouldn’t. Not a chance. I’d be shocked if there is one single example of such a thing happening in the past 50 years. “Immutable” & “timeless”, from a church doctrine perspective, are remarkably fluid when you really take a look at them. Seventy years ago, when my grandparents got married, they couldn’t have a ceremony in a church because he was Catholic and she was Anglican. Such a union was a “sin” and against the teachings of both faiths. Their marriage severely limited – at the time – their social circle and my grandfather’s employment opportunities. Such a union today doesn’t even… Read more »
Call me cynical (It’s OK; I am.) but I’d bet that the “timeless truth” of the Catholic Church would be subject to couple revisions if it were told that their tax exempt status was gone because of the way they treated homosexuals. Ten blocks from where I live is a street that has an evangelical church beside a Buddhist temple that’s right next to a mosque and two doors down from that is a Sikh gurdwara. Six blocks from there is a Catholic Church, an Ukrainian Orthodox Church, synagogue (Reform) and the United Church of Canada. Each and everyone of them claims the “revealed truth” and much of that “revealed truth” is mutually exclusive. Y’all can’t be all right. My… Read more »

Private schools have better lunches , less violence & better academics . Teachers want to go to one too.

SOUTHERN CATHOLIC

Better lunch = childish. Theology class every day where they teach Catholic faith. Less violence because those who dont follow rules are expelled. Many teachers are paid less than in public school. If you want to stay…same for teachers and students….follow the rules.

You have no sense of the subtle. Lunches are extremely important to children .Private schools offer a better menu & are not under Michelle Obama’s directives. Interestingly I just now read the menu from the exclusive Sidwell Friends School that is run by The Quakers for the DC elite. ( Sasha is actually named Natasha which begs the question – If Obama had a son he would be called Boris? ) They have a Chef & this week are even having Subway Italian meatballs & ice creme for a kick. This stuff is nowhere near the Quaker philosophy . Next the Amisch will be running Formula One teams. Try not to attack peope who are making an alternate but relevant… Read more »
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About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson just can’t stay away from the pool. A competitive career sixteen years and running wasn’t enough for this native Minnesotan, who continues to get his daily chlorine fix. A lifelong lover of writing, Jared now combines the two passions as Senior Reporter for SwimSwam.com, covering swimming at every …

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