Support continues to grow the gay Catholic teacher, who taught St Lucy’s Priory School before they fired him for allegedly for marrying his partner. Over 58,000 people signed an online petition that started on Monday, August 12, 2013, and the number of signers continues to grow.
Ken Bencomo, age 45, who taught English at St. Lucy’s, married his partner, Christopher Persky, age 32, on July 1, 2013, after the California Supreme Court decided that Prop 8 was unconstitutional and same-sex marriages could continue in the state.
Soon after his employer found out he married his partner, he was fired.
Actress Brittany Littleton, age 23, graduated from St. Lucy’s in 2008. When she heard about the school firing Bencomo, she led a protest, which drew in about 800 people.
“I just believe it’s a complete injustice,” said Brittany Littleton, 23, who graduated from St. Lucy’s in 2008, and launched the petition to reinstate Bencomo on the web-based platform, Change.org. “I was really horrified and sickened and so ashamed of my school for making this decision.”
“There’s been no sense of remorse or understanding of even what a hurtful and prejudicial decision this is,” Littleton said. “So my plan really is just to keep going until they realize that. A lot of it really has to do with church doctrine, so this fight is going to have to continue on past St. Lucy’s.”
Students who heard about the school firing Bencomo — who they affectionately call Mr. B. — knew he was gay but were shocked that the school fired him. They said they would continue to push the school to re-hire him.
The Catholic Church opposes gay marriage and Robert Alaniz, St. Lucy’s media consultant, stated that the school stands by their decision to fire Bencomo. According to Alaniz, the school did not fire Bencomo because he is gay, but because he made his same-sex marriage a "public spectacle."
While the school is not part of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, it follows the educational standards of the archdiocese. The archdiocese has not commented.
According to a recent poll by Quinnipiac University, surveying around 500 Catholics, 54% Catholic voters support same-sex marriage, with that number growing, while only 38% oppose it.
In Columbus, Ohio, teacher Carla Hale was fired from a Catholic high school in April, after someone pointed out that she listed her lesbian partner’s name in her mother’s obituary.
And in January, Nicholas Coppola was stripped of his volunteer posts as a religious education teacher, lector and visitation minister at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Oceanside, N.Y., after he married his same-sex partner.