• Sat, Dec 7 - 5:04 pm ET

Openly Gay Teacher Callously Fired After Applying For A Marriage License

fired after applying for a marriage license

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Rage headache time. A gay teacher from Pennsylvania was fired from his job at a Catholic high school recently. Not for being gay, mind you. Nope. He was fired for applying for a marriage license so he could marry his partner.

Michael Griffin taught Spanish and French at Holy Ghost Preparatory School in Bensalem, Pennsylvania for 12 years, and was always open about his sexuality. This is also the same school he attended as a child himself, so I think I’m safe to assume that at least some of the staff knew him pretty well. His sexuality was never an issue, until he decided to marry his partner and went to apply for a marriage license. It was then that principal Jeffrey Danilak and school president Father James McCloskey called him in for a meeting. According to Griffin:

“I really didn’t think that it would happen. At our school we talk about it’s a community. Our motto is “One heart, one mind.”

Danilak reportedly asked Griffin whether he was entering a same sex marriage and when Griffin said yes Danilak told him that if he would have no choice but to fire him.

According to Griffin’s long time partner Vincent Giannetto:

“We applied this morning and on the same day he’s fired from his job. So it kind of flipped things upside down for us.”

Griffin says he was fired for breaking the school’s code of conduct, which reads:

“Although, the School welcomes teachers from other denominations and recognizes their rights to religious freedom, as employees of a Catholic institution, all teachers are expected to uphold lifestyles compatible with the moral teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.”

Now, I understand that by working at a Catholic school, Griffin must have know this was a possibility. This is the standard excuse I see in the comments section every time I read a story like this on the internet, and I have no doubt I will see them here as well. But he worked there for 12 years as an openly gay man. The school KNEW he was gay. Why is it okay for him to “live in sin” with another man for years, but suddenly not okay when he wants to marry that man and “make it official”? Why cherry pick what rules they want to follow?

Hopefully this media attention this is getting will help Griffin find another job, but it’s sad that he has to for something as simple as living his damn life.

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  • Tea

    These stories always sting, especially being catholic and in a homosexual marriage myself. Even when I was deeply in the closet, it never felt very “christian” to cast out someone who needs a job. But, I’ve always had a very strong focus on love, compassion and giving on my personal path.

    PA state laws also allow this to be completely legal, even if he was not at a religious institution, something a lot of people aren’t aware of. In multiple states, you can be fired or refused housing over sexuality or gender identity.( It’s one of the many reasons I chose to move to a very expensive state.)

    • Cee

      This kind of stuff in religious institutions really does not shock me, but I hate that the law allows lgbtq discrimination outside of religious places, especially when these are determined by the people.

    • Allyson_et_al

      Didn’t you know? Employment and housing are just two more examples of the “special rights” on the homosexual agenda.

      *headdesk*

    • Tea

      I keep meaning to read and sign off on that homosexual agenda I was sent, but I keep getting distracted by being a normal dude with a life and a job. I’m so behind on these things…

    • Allyson_et_al

      Get with the program, Tea! I’m pretty sure it includes breakfast, going to work, paying bills, grocery shopping, picking the kids up from school, seducing a straight person, having dinner, doing the dishes, and watching TV. Did I miss anything?

    • Allyson_et_al

      Oh, also, you have utterly failed to destroy my marriage with your gayness, so you really need to step up your game.

    • Tea

      Damn it! Did I at least ruin your religious beliefs and make your question your sexuality?

      (Also, I have been blatantly accused of that last one, because according to some people, my husband is “Straight”)

    • Allyson_et_al

      Dude, I went to Vassar. Questioning your sexuality was practically a graduation requirement. However, if any gay person is going to destroy my marriage, can it be Rachel Maddow? Pretty please?

    • Kay_Sue

      Yes, destroying the sanctity of marriage and the very fabric underpinning of our society as a whole, dammit!

    • meteor_echo

      This is why you’re so behind on the paychecks from the homosexual agenda folks – I’m sure they look at you and your daily life and shake their heads. I mean, c’mon, a dude who’s trying to live a normal life with a spouse and pets?

  • Cee

    Since I don’t have my credentials yet, teaching at a private, for the most part, religious school is often tempting. I’ve taught for “the district” for minimum wage (under the table shadiness) , so this would put me in the field I excel in and am curious to be for the pay I deserve. BUT, I know what applying to a religious school means. I would pretty much be signing away my private life. The applications alone ask so much about the way you live your life “according to Christ and the bible” that I know I will always be so paranoid about not only them finding out I am a lesbian but of anything they may not find to be “according to Christ and the bible.”

    I understand why people apply, but at the same time, religious institutions can and will get away with this. It seems to be deeply rooted in their belief system and the government pretty much lets them get away with it because it is in their belief system. I mean, they take away birth control from health plans, fire for “dirty” pictures taken before hire, fire for premarital sex, abortion and so on. You can sign petitions all you want, write about it all you want, but this is something that I don’t see the church surpassing for a while still…or ever. Which is why I never submit my applications.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Weren’t there some public school teachers fired for dirty pics before…and that one for twerking…and a few for porn? I don’t teach for a private school, but sometimes I get pissed at having to live my life in public so perfectly too. For instance, my screen name here….my real name isn’t Wendy. I can’t use my real name because sometimes I bitch about teaching. Sometimes I curse, Goddammit. I think it sucks that I have to act like a fucking saint anywhere my students might ever run across me, because, believe me, I ain’t no saint. Private school is the worst, of course, but even public school makes demands on teachers that I don’t think they should have the right to.

    • Lillibet

      Thank you! It sucks being in a public school and having to watch what you say and do outside of your workplace – down to the words you use, the places you go and the things you discuss. I’ve had teaching colleagues who have had parental complaints for amongst other things – swearing in a public place during school holidays (high school teachers), not using a knife and fork correctly when at a local cafe (no – not for eating like a slob, but for not having perfect table manners when out with their friends), and going into a pub with friends (god forbid we should drink).

      I once asked my students whether teachers should have that level of scrutiny (along with celebs, police and doctors) and their unanimous answer was along the lines of “As long as it doesn’t stop you from doing your job, why should it matter?” If fifteen year olds can get it, why can’t their parents?

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Thanks for getting it :)

    • carosaurusrex

      This is why I don’t want to live in the school district I teach in. Table manners??? Are you f***ing kidding me?

    • Lillibet

      I really wish I was. I was with him (primary teacher) at the time at a local cafe. We were just having a normal lunch (I think he had a burger of some kind and was about to use his hands to pick it up) when he suddenly went fumbling for his knife and fork. I looked around (in a state of bemusement, he’s not an easily flappable guy) to see a lady giving us the stare of doom. Next week he told me that she’d complained to the Principal about the fact he was creating a ‘bad role model’ for how you dine in public – and yes she talked about the fact the wasn’t using a knife and fork for his burger and chips – on a Saturday.

      I have lived both near my school (in walking distance) and on the opposite side of the city and I have to say that being this far away is much more relaxing. As a high school teacher I’ve found nearly all of my kids are awesome at the ‘hey guys, this is my time now’ part of the job (I’ve often bumped into my kids and their parents at the local comic-cons) but my primary school teaching friends have less luck.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I’m actually friends with the woman who was my third grade teacher, if you can believe it. She’s an awesome person, and of course a normal lady, but very different from what we were made to think she was like due to the constraints of being a teacher. She has the same complaints you have, and once had to have a meeting with the principal of the school for having drinks at a local bar. The general consensus after that meeting was that drinking in a bar in the same town (a suburb of a middle sized city, so pretty small) is a no-no, but a few towns over would be fine. Why should she have to drive 3 minutes to have a damn glass of wine?

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Oh my God, there’s this article about a Dr. who caught her husband having an affair and went on this crazy stalkerish rampage. http://www.newsoxy.com/odd/angela-siler-fisher-148963.html

      And I love how at the end of the article, her hospital says,it’s “private matter for Dr. Fisher and does not impact her work at Baylor College of Medicine.” That so would not happen if she was a teacher. Classic! I will have to remember this if I ever go on a crazy stalkerish rampage of my own.

    • Kay_Sue

      I am torn on this. I worked as a manager for a toy store once. We had an employee that posted “Gonna roll a fattie and then head off to work at (insert name of store)”. We fired her, and I did and still do support that decision–she had identified herself as our employee, and those actions helped shape public perception of our company and our store in particular.

      If she hadn’t identified herself as an employee, and I had just stumbled across it personally, I probably wouldn’t have considered it a terminable offense, because the actions wouldn’t reflect back on us, and people have a right to do what they want on their free time.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Yeah, but I’m not talking about anything illegal. I seriously don’t even do anything illegal (except occasionally maybe speed over the limit a bit). That doesn’t even surprise me. What I’m talking about is the right to be at my local grocery store with alcohol in my cart, because hello, I’m 33 (and I’m probably having a party, because I don’t even really like to drink), without having to worry that some parent will see me and call me a bad influence. I’m talking about being in public and someone startling me and me shouting, “HOLY SHIT!” and having to worry that a parent overheard. Or flipping off someone that cuts me off in my car and discovering later that it’s the president of the PTO (didn’t happen, but could, cause that’s how I roll). Or, just using my real name on Mommyish and just being myself. It’s that that I object to. Eve, Francis, Mariah…they can just be themselves at their job. When they curse we think….eh, they’re human. If they joke about something inappropriate, we don’t assume they can’t do their jobs.

    • Kay_Sue

      Real picture yes, real name somewhat. ;)

      You are completely right there. Everyone’s human, and no one needs the added pressure of being put up on a pedestal at all times because of their job–most especially teachers, because we put enough pressure on them as is.

    • carosaurusrex

      “If they joke about something inappropriate, we don’t assume they can’t do their jobs.”

      THIS x 1,000.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      It’s so silly too. Teachers are HUMAN, why don’t people understand that? It’s funny, I actually went to a private, catholic high school, and they were much less uptight than most private or public schools I’ve seen. I feel like it helped with our learning experience to be able to see our teachers as people, instead of perfect, teaching automatons.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      And, I don’t expect to do any of that stuff in front of students or anything. Just….don’t expect perfection from teachers outside of school.

    • Cee

      Oh yea. I have worked for a district, now I work for six. Luckily I work in California so my sexuality would not be a fireable offense as it would be elsewhere. Thank dog!

      But yea. You HAVE to be a good person in your private life, especially when you are highly recognized or say where you work. I never put where I work on my facebook or any of that. When friends ask me where I worked or work now on the comments section, if I trust them and personally know them, I text the answer to them.

      I have never personally gotten complaints, which makes sense because I used to fix all their technology for free, but I heard from my coworkers. Just, stupid complaints over silly things..running into them in bars, hearing them curse on the phone outside of school, so on. Some parents just have a lot of time on their hands. I wish we could do the same to them and bitch about their private life to someone and have them fired.

    • Andrea

      It’s not really fair to slam a religious employer for upholding their principles. These are schools that take people’s private money so that they can be educated in the way the parents want, according to their beliefs.
      I don’t really understand this particular case, since the guy worked there for 12 years as openly gay AND living with a man, but it doesn’t surprise me (nor particularly anger me) that private institutions would want the right (and freedom, hey ‘Muricah! right?) to conduct business according to their beliefs. And since they are not taking public finds, they really do have that right.

    • Cee

      Oh no. Believe me, I am not surprised. Is it sad? Sure, but I know where you are coming from. And, I know where they are coming from.

      Like I said, they do things because they are rooted in their beliefs. I may think that at times, they are stupid and backwards beliefs, but I recognize that this is not something that Christianity will waver with because people say its unfair, start petitions over or anything. They have the right to do it privately because it is funded by people that expect them to enforce certain beliefs Yet, it doesn’t make the thing any less sadder. A man worked, trusted and felt comfortable in his religious community until they fried him because he chose to marry a man.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      No one is saying they can’t do it, but I think I have every right to call them out on hypocrisy. And I think it’s more than fair. It would be different if they had just discovered his sexuality, but it was no secret.

    • Andrea

      I said I didn’t understand this case, as it was no secret he was gay and he was hired anyways.
      And of course, you can do and feel however the heck you want about it. But the fact remains that it is a private institution.

    • ElleJai

      I think your Catholic schools suck. In my country, at the Catholic schools I went to, about the only extra rule for teachers was “don’t publicly disbelieve in Jesus”. That was it. No one gave a rats about their sexuality, whether they went to church or anything else. Just don’t tell the kids if you disbelieve in Jesus and be a good teacher. Job done.

  • Kresaera

    This makes me sad =(

  • Emily

    Yes, it is terrible that, in this day and age, someone can be fired for such a reason.

    However… When you look at the legality of the case… It is legal. Sucky, but technically ok. The outrage here should not be directed toward the firing, but toward the fact that the Catholic Church does not support such a union of two people.

    • Kay_Sue

      Towards the Catholic Church, and also towards the government that allows discrimination both in and outside of religious workplaces, I think. There should be protections in place.

    • Allyson_et_al

      I have plenty of outrage to go around.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      It depends on where you are though, because even though the whole church doesn’t technically accept it, my personal Catholic church has an openly gay communion minister..She and her partner come to mass all the time. Our state doesn’t allow gay marriage though, and I don’t know if legally they are married, but they have several adopted children between them and have been a family for the 10 years I’ve known them. I wish the Catholic Church would get over it, too, but I just want it on the record that we’re not all like….evil.

    • ElleJai

      My best guy friend growing up was gay in a very Catholic family. He had a chat with our priest who told him unequivocally that God loves him and made him that way.

      New Pope will get assassinated quietly if he gets that progressive, but he’s altered the emphasis to focus more on being a good person instead of cataloguing sins and haranguing people for stupid reasons of sexuality and birth control etc.

      Change is slow, but it’s happening.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Agreed, and I’m happy about the changes that seem to be coming finally :)

    • EmmaFromÉire

      What pisses me off most is that if you substituted them with literally any other group it’d be completely unacceptable. ”Oh no, we can’t let the blacks/latinos/Irish/blondes marry!”

  • Allyson_et_al

    Why oh why are so many embarrassingly unenlightened things happening in Pennsylvania lately? It really seems like my home state is trying to become the new Florida.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      It’s odd to me, too. I don’t really see Pennsylvania as a bastion of unenlightenment. I have family there, in various areas of the state, and they’ve always described it as being pretty progressive. I suppose it depends on where you are in the state. New York state (where I live) has the same issues, depending on where you are.

    • Allyson_et_al

      Agreed. I’m in NY, as well (Westchester), and the regional politics do seem to apply here, too.

  • amanda Knox

    He got fired for working at a school that calls gay sex an abomination to God. I’m seriously shocked that this is even an issue?? Give it a rest, just because you’re gay the rules don’t apply to him?? Pffsht.

    • Allyson_et_al

      They didn’t fire him for being gay; they fired him for getting married. That’s why this story is so strange. Regarding your comment, “just because you’re gay the rules don’t apply to him??” (sic), these rules only apply to gay people. I’m fairly sure the school would not fire a straight teacher for getting married.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I’m pretty sure she was calling me gay for defending a gay man. Because only other gay people would defend a gay person, didn’t you get the memo? /sarcasm

    • Allyson_et_al

      Really? I’d better go give my husband the bad news….

    • meteor_echo

      Nope, they fired him for ~not wanting to live in sin~. Basically, they forbade the dude to do the same thing they pester women into since teenhood.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Wut? First of all, I’m married to a man and I have three kids. Even a passing glance through my work here would show that. Second, I AM bisexual, but that has nothing to do with this whatsoever. The problem here isn’t that he was fired for being gay – he wasn’t. He was fired for getting married, after living OPENLY as a gay man with his partner for many years. The school was fine with that. The partner even attended school events. Was the decision legal? Yes. But it was also hypocritical. People like you are an abomination to humanity.

  • whiteroses

    If he’s openly gay, and they knew it, then they’re violating their own rules. Simple as that.

    I’m all about the separation of church and state. But I’m also all about consistency. If his colleagues knew he was gay, and his students knew he was gay, then the idea that he wants to marry a man shouldn’t be that shocking.

    • Kheldarson

      It’s not that he was openly gay: it’s whether he’s living a chaste life or not. If he’s gay and not having sex, then he’s chaste and there’s no issue, just as if he were a single hetero not having sex. The issue becomes when he gets married as he cannot have a marriage that is recognized by the church. So when he gets married, he will be in an openly unchaste situation and therefore in violation of his contract.

    • Andrea

      He was living with his partner before though.

    • brebay

      Right, because marriage = sex….I hear that’s a big selling point!

  • Blueathena623

    This almost sounds like one of those situations where religious people accept gay people as long as they are not having sex. Like being gay isn’t a sin, just acting on it. So in that bizarro world, maybe the school officials tried to pretend that he was celibate, but once he got married they knew he would have to consummate the marriage for it to be legit? Or that marriage is all about procreating and technically they can’t? I dunno. Not excusing it, think its ridiculous and hurtful, etc.

    • Kheldarson

      It’s the same way we assume that hetero couples are all celibate too until marriage. My main question is if he was living with his partner or not. If he wasn’t, then the school could honestly say they thought he was living a chaste, celibate life as he agreed to do, and that by marrying his partner he’d be entering into an unchaste life as the Catholic Church does not recognize homosexual unions as sacramental marriages (there are seven things that make up a Church marriage and procreation is one of them. If any of these things are in violation, then the marriage is considered void). If he was living with his partner ahead of time and they knew it, then this should be a non-issue as they already had him working while living in an openly unchaste situation.

      And, to clarify, acting on it isn’t a sin exclusive to being gay. It’s also a sin to act before marriage if you’re hetero.

    • koolchicken

      That’s exactly what’s happening here. I just commented saying as much. Being homosexuality isn’t a sin, homosexual acts are. Supposedly you’re not expected to try and make yourself straight because God made you the way you are and He doesn’t make mistakes. But you are supposed to live a celibate life and resisting the “temptation to sin” is just a burden they have to live with. Seems beyond stupid to me, but it’s the way it is.

  • Kheldarson

    As a Catholic, I struggle with this kind of situation because I do believe in gay rights. However I also fully believe in and support the Church’s position on marriage as well. To clarify the Church’s position, here’s the definition of marriage: “Marriage is the intimate, exclusive, indissoluble communion of life and love entered by man and woman at the design of the Creator for the purposes of their own good and the procreation and education of children; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.” (from Good News about Sex and Marriage by Christopher West, page 46).

    The second part of this definition is what separates a sacramental marriage from a “good and natural” marriage (which are marriages that meet the basic requirements even without both partners being necessarily Catholic or even Christian); the first part is what makes a marriage a marriage to the Church. If any of these points are in violation, then that gives ground to an annulment, which, unlike divorce which just declares a union as being through, declares that a marriage never occurred in the first place. So, for a non-charged example, if a man or woman cheats on their partner and admits they never intended to remain faithful, then there’s grounds for an annulment on the basis that one partner never intended to remain “exclusive”. So since gay marriage is not open to the “procreation…of children”, that type of marriage remains invalid.

    So, in this case, my major question is whether the teacher was living with his partner or not. If he was, then I call bullshit on the school because they already had a teacher openly living an unchaste lifestyle in their school; his getting legally married makes no difference. If he wasn’t living with his partner, then the school has more of a case: they make no assumption on what you do on dates, but declaring you’re getting married means that you definitely will be living in an unchaste manner.

    That’s why him being openly gay isn’t a real issue here: the issue is more whether or not he’s openly having sex while unmarried. The same would (or, at least, should) happen to a hetero single man who gets caught having sex with a woman.

    • Allyson_et_al

      This is an honest, non-snarky question: what is the church’s position on marriage between the elderly? Such a marriage is also not open to the procreation of children. Assuming the people involved haven’t been divorced, would this marriage “count”?

    • Kheldarson

      Yes, actually. Abraham and Sarah, according to Biblical tradition, had a child through God’s grace after Sarah was of child bearing age. So it’s understood that while they probably won’t be having kids at that age, it, y’know, could happen. If God wanted it to.

    • Kheldarson

      Realized I didn’t actually answer the first question: elderly can get married because they still have the technical potential to have kids. See also the 97 year old man who fathered a kid (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2442492/Worlds-oldest-dad-97-devastated-wife-leaves-following-disappearance-son.html. Sad story, but gives relevant details of his age.)

    • Allyson_et_al

      Thanks for answering my question. I still think that position has a lot of holes in it (what about lesbians? God could impregnate a lesbian if he wanted to. And what about a bride who had had a hysterectomy? Could God give a woman without a womb a pregnancy?), and I’m a fervent supporter of marriage equality, but I really do appreciate your explaining the church’s approach. I’m a judeo-protestant mutt, so I’m not really up on Catholic dogma, but I find different religious beliefs pretty fascinating.

    • Kheldarson

      I agree that there are plenty of holes, and I do hope that the Church goes in and looks at them at some point and sees if there’s some way to make it all work without violating our most basic principles.

    • koolchicken

      Thank you for this comment, it basically explains pretty much everything. I’m Catholic but pro gay rights as well. My attitude has always been the separation of church and state is a good thing. That if the Church doesn’t want to recognize gay marriage they don’t have to. But that civil unions should be available to anyone who wants one regardless of sexual orientation.

    • meteor_echo

      Welp, I suppose that if I got to marry my man-friend, ours wouldn’t count by your standards – we’re boring cis hetero white people, but both of us are childfree, and should a birth control failure happen, it will be dealt with accordingly.

      Then again, this is why I don’t consider procreation a reason to get married. Hominids have done just that without silly binding rituals for thousands of years, and, as we see now, they’ve done it quite proficiently.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      He was absolutely living with his partner, and from every source I’ve read, the school knew it. Apparently his partner would even come to school functions.
      *Edited* to say thank you for the detailed and easily understood definition!

    • Kheldarson

      Then I agree that the school is being very hypocritical, if that’s the case. It’s hard to make the argument of he’s no longer living in a chaste way if he already wasn’t in an open way!

      And you’re quite welcome for the definition. I highly recommend the book it came from, Good News about Sex and Marriage, as a good intro into what the Church teaches about love, life, sex, and marriage. It’s a very down to earth read.

  • koolchicken

    I haven’t read the other comments yet but I think it’s worth mentioning being gay isn’t a sin in Catholicism. Apparently only gay sex is a sin. So assuming he wasn’t living with his partner (or announcing he wasn’t a virgin) he wouldn’t have been violating any of the school/churches rules. But once he applied for the license and actually got married they would obviously be living together and that’s a “no no”.

    Now I’m not saying it’s right, or that I agree with it. But those are “the rules” so I get why he was fired. And the reality of it is he DID know who he was working for, and that this WAS a risk. So I can’t get too worked up about it.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      True, but according to some reports, he was very much living with his partner, and the partner was known to the school and attended events. Now, how open they were about that isn’t clear, which is why I didn’t press the issue in the post, but I suspect the school knew he was living with the partner, and wouldn’t sex be assumed if you’re living with your boyfriend?

    • koolchicken

      This is the only article I’ve read on this so I don’t know if they were living together. But at the end of the day married people have sex, lots of it. People who are dating do too, but not always. Even if they were living together the school can always claim they assumed he was celibate because he was unmarried. But they can’t bury their heads in the sand anymore if he is going to marry his boyfriend. It’s a shame they can’t be more tolerant, they were doing alright for a while there.

    • brebay

      but probably not as much as they did when they were single…

  • brebay

    This is like going to work for the mafia and then complaining that they violate OSHA standards…

  • Mystik Spiral

    Yet if he were a priest diddling the kiddies, the Catholic church would bend over backwards to keep him in his job.

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