Catholic School Teacher Fired by Brooklyn Diocese for Marrying a Man

Photo: (Photo : Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)

A Catholic school teacher was fired from his job on October 13 because the Brooklyn Diocese found out that he got married to a man in August.

Music teacher Matthew LaBanca revealed the details surrounding his firing from the St. Joseph's Catholic Academy and removal as the Corpus Christi Church music director in a YouTube video, where he's also asking for support for his "discriminatory termination."  

LaBanca said that high-ranking members of the Brooklyn Diocese met for more than a month to discuss his employment, where they ultimately decided that the Catholic school teacher could not stay on his job. LaBanca said he has also been stripped of his health insurance and connection to the community that has meant a lot to him following his job loss.

The teacher told ABC News New York that he was not closeted and everyone in the school and church knew his sexual orientation. He believed that his personal life would not be an issue, except that it bothered someone in the community who was acting in "an apparent act of righteousness."

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Refusing the Gag Order

LaBanca specifically named Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, who oversaw the parishes in the Brooklyn Diocese, as the man responsible for his firing because the school principal was the teacher's "fiercest advocate." He detailed that his severance pay was worth three months' salary, and he was asked to sign a 10-page gag order. The Catholic school teacher refused to sign the document.

Mary Ann Daly, a member of the parish and LaBanca's friend, said that the firing is hypocritical because the community is aware of what's going on, but the church leaders have chosen to make one person the victim.

For now, LaBanca is still thinking about whether or not he'll sue the diocese. Per New York State laws, same-sex marriage has been legal since 2011. However, a spokesperson for Brooklyn Diocese said that the law of the Church is clear, and his conduct did not exemplify the teachings in the Catholic doctrine.

According to New York Daily News, DiMarzio has been strongly against gay marriage and banned lawmakers who supported the 2011 legislation from stepping foot in the Brooklyn Diocese.

In September, the Vatican exonerated the bishop for the sexual abuse allegations lodged by two men who claimed DiMarzio; then, a New Jersey priest victimized them more than 50 years ago. Per Newsweek, DiMarzio said he fully cooperated with the Vatican's investigation because he knew that the accusations were false. He said that he was looking forward to clearing his name in court.

LaBanca's Petition

Meanwhile, more than 3,000 have signed the petition against LaBanca's discrimination and reinstatement as teacher and music director. One of the supporters said that the students miss LaBanca, while another said that he was the kind of teacher who made the lives of the children better.

Some of those who knew LaBanca from years ago also said that they could not believe discrimination still existed. Those who met the teacher briefly in their children's class described him as a welcoming and gracious person who was valued and adored by the students.

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