John M. Becker

WA Catholic School to Gay Admin: Get A Divorce & We'll Re-Hire You

Filed By John M. Becker | January 06, 2014 4:45 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: Catholic Church, Catholic school, divorce, forced divorce, gay marriage, Mark Zmuda, marriage equality, pro-equality Catholics, pro-LGBT Catholics, same-sex marriage, Washington

mark-zmuda-gay-catholic-teacher.jpgRemember Mark Zmuda, the former vice principal of Eastside Catholic High School in Sammamish, Washington who was dismissed from his job last month after administrators discovered that he married a man?

Well, it turns out that he didn't resign, as the school claims. In an interview conducted by Catrina Chritenden, one of Zmuda's former students, Zmuda says the head of the school board and a lawyer for the Archdiocese of Seattle called him into a meeting and told him that he "was going to be let go." Put another way, they fired him.

But what happened next is even more galling. School President Sister Mary Tracy offered Zmuda a way out: she told him that if he divorced his husband Dana Jergens, he could keep his job.

To add insult to injury, Sister Tracy apparently suggested they give Zmuda and Jergens a commitment ceremony once they went through with the divorce. Because he can at least have the table scraps, right?

mark-zmuda-memeographs.jpgThink about that for a moment. Can you imagine a more vile, repulsive, contemptible request? Could you imagine someone telling you that the only way you could keep your job was if you divorced the person you love? What kind of person could put another human being in such an unconscionable position, and on what planet is this kind of immoral and unethical conduct acceptable?

As someone who was pushed out of public ministry in the Catholic Church because of my own marriage, Zmuda's story is one I can relate to all too well. Words simply cannot convey the depth of my disgust at the way he was treated.

Of course, Zmuda refused to leave his husband, so his termination went forward. He told Chritenden that he was "shocked" by Sister Tracy's offer, both because it was so stunningly callous and because Catholic teaching actually forbids divorce.

But apparently, since the Catholic Church doesn't think same-sex marriages are real anyway, a gay divorce is pretty much inconsequential.

For her part, Sister Tracy claims that she made the offer as a last-ditch effort to keep him employed at the school. "I suggested to dissolve the marriage to save his job," she told KING 5 News. "I was trying to hang onto him." Tracy said she was not proud of having made the offer, but that she "owned it."


Zmuda's full interview with Chritenden is below. Discussion of Sister Mary Tracy's repugnant offer begins at the 12:00 mark.

Graphic via Scott Wooledge, Memeographs Studio.

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