The former Vice Principal of Eastside Catholic high school who was fired when administrators discovered he had married his male partner revealed today that he could have kept his job if he had gotten a divorce.
Mark Zmuda said in an interview with one of his former students that the Catholic school’s president, Sister Mary Tracy, informed him that if he consented to divorce his husband, he could keep his job.
Catholic doctrine considers divorce “a grave offense against the natural law.”
So Zmuda, a practicing Catholic, was surprised when Sister Mary Tracy recommended divorce as a remedy for his dismissal. “I thought…they were against was also divorce,” he said in the interview. “I’m a little shocked that was even on the table to have me keep my job. They also offered for me to have a commitment ceremony if I were willing to get a divorce.”
School attorney Mike Patterson disputes the claim that Zmuda was fired, claiming that he offered to resign after the December meeting with Sister Mary Tracy. He also claimed the divorce suggestion was “purely hypothetical.”
Zmuda’s former students have rallied around him, creating a robust Facebook presence that has gotten the attention of Sister Mary Tracy and her administration. Yesterday, she agreed to meet with students to address their concerns about Zmuda’s firing.
The meeting became even more significant yesterday afternoon, after another Eastside Catholic employee, Stephanie Merrow, revealed that she recently became engaged to her partner of five years.
“I’ve been battling this,” Merrow said on The Ron and Don Show. “When this happened with Mark [Zmuda], somebody who works at the school called me and said ‘I would understand if you want to quit.’”
She said that quitting “wasn’t an option. I love those kids and I don’t want to quit. If they want to fire me, they can. But I’m not going to quit on those kids. I adore them. We’ve already started the work. I wouldn’t do that to those kids.”
She also admitted that it was the students rallying around Zmuda that compelled her to come out. “I’m completely choked up,” she said. “Those kids are just so wonderful. This generation just absolutely warms my heart…The fact that they’re making a huge statement and trying to make history just makes me so proud.”
Watch the entire interview with Zmuda below.
Scott Eric Kaufman is the proprietor of the AV Club's Internet Film School and, in addition to Raw Story, also writes for Lawyers, Guns & Money. He earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2008.
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