A gay teacher in New York was fired from a Catholic school after marrying his partner

Asia's Tech News Daily

A music teacher was fired from his role at a Catholic school in Queens, New York, just six weeks after his marriage to another man.

Matthew LaBanca was a music teacher at St. Joseph Catholic Academy in Astoria and music director at Corpus Christi Church before his termination on Oct. 13, after someone told Brooklyn Diocese officials he’d gotten married to a man in August, LeBanca said in a YouTube video he posted over the weekend.

“I’m stripped of both of my jobs, all of my employment, my health insurance and, most importantly, the community life that has meant so much to me, not because of my work performance – not in the slightest – but because I’m gay,” he said.

LaBanca says trouble began once a community member reported his wedding to the diocese, which he called “an apparent act of righteousness.” He goes on to say that diocese officials spent six weeks deliberating his employment status and if he would stay employed.

“The answer turned out to be no,” he said.

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In a statement sent to USA TODAY, officials from the school and church where LaBanca worked confirmed his termination was not because he was not good at his job.

“Based on the expectations that all Catholic school and academy personnel, and ministers of the Church, comply with Church teachings, as they share in the responsibility of ministering the faith to students. In his case, it has been determined that he can no longer fulfill his obligations as a minister of the faith at either the school or the parish,” the statement reads.

The statement continues to say that “despite changes to New York State law in 2011 legalizing same-sex marriage, Church law is clear.”

In the video, LaBanca places blame on Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, the official in charge of the Brooklyn Diocese, which oversees the parishes in Brooklyn and Queens.

DiMarzio made headlines in 2011 after the state legalized same-sex marriage by banning lawmakers who voted in favor of same-sex marriage from appearing at churches or schools in the Brooklyn Diocese.

New York prohibits employers from penalizing employees based on their sexual orientation and marital status. However, the First Amendment’s religious protections made the termination of LaBanca legal.

“But just because something is legal, doesn’t make it right,” he said in the YouTube video.

LaBanca said he was offered a severance package with a “gag order” that was almost 10 pages long, which he says is “a lot of ways to say ‘shut up’ and don’t talk about this.” He has not signed it because “no price can be placed” on his personal integrity.

A petition has been made in support of LaBanca and has almost 4,000 signatures.

LaBanca could not be immediately reached for comment.

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