The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting a popular music teacher at St. Ann Catholic School was fired in February when word got to the Archdiocese he planned to travel to New York to wed his male partner on their 20th anniversary together.
Al Fischer was fired Feb. 17 after four years as serving as St. Ann's music teacher.
The school confirmed the four-year employee had been let go in a statement to the Post-Dispatch:
The Rev. Bill Kempf, St. Ann's pastor, said in an emailed statement that the parish was "recently informed by one of its teachers of his plan to unite in marriage with an individual of the same sex. With full respect of this individual's basic human dignity, this same-sex union opposes Roman Catholic teaching as it cannot realize the full potential a marital relationship is meant to express. As a violation of the Christian Witness Statement that all Catholic educators in the Archdiocese of St. Louis are obliged to uphold, we relieved this teacher of his duties."It wasn't a revelation to the school that Fischer was gay, his partner Charlie Robin tells the paper:
"We just didn't realize we were making a 'public' stand," Robin said. "There's nothing that's been hidden about our relationship at any point. I go to the staff parties. I show up at the school concerts. ... It doesn't matter until somebody with the Archdiocese is sitting in the room."Robin alleges a representative of Archdiocese overheard Fischer talking to co-workers about his wedding plans.
Fischer likely has few options but to hit the pavement. Though Missouri has no state-level non-discrimination employment protection for gays, lesbians and transgender, the City of St. Louis does. But religious exemptions are included, and sure to apply:
(8) It shall not be an unlawful employment practice for a school, college, university or other educational institution which is, in whole or in substantial part, owned, supported, controlled or managed by a particular religion, or by a particular religious corporation, association, or society, if the curriculum of such school, college, university or other educational institution is substantially directed toward the propagation or teaching of a particular religion, for such school, college, university or educational institution to consider the religion of an applicant in making a hiring decision for a teaching or counseling position, a professorship, or a position involving supervision of teachers, counselors or professors.A recent Supreme Court decision Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission buttressed such actions as lawful.
Apparently it violates the Church's teachings for a teacher to lawfully marry his partner, but it was OK so long as he was just "living in sin."
For what it's worth:
One parent at St. Ann Catholic School who asked not to be identified said many parents were upset over Fischer's firing, considering his impressive work with the school's music program and his popularity among students and parents.Too bad Fischer didn't just molest some kids, he could have just been quietly transferred to another school.
The parent and others with ties to the school told the Post-Dispatch that Fischer's sexual orientation was well-known.