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Gay teacher fired from Catholic school after wedding makes local news

Thursday, August 1, 2013

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — A California man says he was fired from his teaching job at a Catholic high school less than two weeks after his marriage to his same-sex partner was featured in local news reports.

Ken Bencomo

Ken Bencomo, 45, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., says he was fired St. Lucy’s Priory High School, an all-girls Catholic school, in Glendora, Calif., where he worked for 17 years and was head of the English department, yearbook adviser and dance coach.

He said the school knew he was gay, had renewed his teaching contract year after year, and that school administrators had even met his husband in the past.

But when his July 1 marriage to Christopher Persky, 32, was announced in local papers, including the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Bencomo said he was fired.

“The reason given was that the marriage occurred and the school’s position was that it violated church teachings,” said Bencomo’s attorney, Patrick McGarrigle.

KCBS-TV has a report:

John Andrews, a spokesman for the Diocese of San Bernardino, said its Catholic schools do not discriminate based on lifestyle choices but “if a teacher or school employee makes a public display of behavior that is counter to church teaching — such as homosexuality, sex outside of marriage, having a child outside of marriage — that can impact their employment status.”

A petition at Change.org has been launched calling for Bencomo to be reinstated.

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120 more reader comments:

  1. nazi bigot pigs

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:08am
  2. Not cool. I hope he can sue them!

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:08am
  3. figures! Damn “christian taliban”!

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:09am
  4. Horrible

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:09am
  5. :´(

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:09am
  6. catholics – keeping it klassy!

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:10am
  7. I guess the Pope´s not judging gays doesn´t quite go far enough.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:10am
  8. so much for pope endorement

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:11am
  9. Two things: 1) guys. I understand the sentiment, because YES THIS SUCKS, but it´s a CATHOLIC school. What do you expect…? Gay marriage is against the beliefs of the Catholic church, period. 2) No matter how bigoted they are, they´re not actually Nazis. We don´t have to compare every bigot and idiot to Hitler and the Nazis, it´s not the same.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:11am
  10. That´s a church for ya!!

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:12am
  11. Why are gays working for these religious organizations? You can´t be catholic and be FOR same-sex marriage. The Catholic church will accept gays, but they have to make some sort of pledge to stay celibate. Churches/organized religious groups are allowed to discriminate.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:12am
  12. I can´t bring myself to ´like´ the story. Good enough to teach…but I guess only from the closet!

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:13am
  13. They don´t deserve you then! Such bigotry! Thought the new pope on a rope was okay with it?

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:13am
  14. booo

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:14am
  15. Because, of course, there are no gay Catholics….

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:14am
  16. Haha burnash!!! (Y)

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:15am
  17. Wrong!

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:16am
  18. Public issue??? Hypocrites . like it´s ok to sexually abuse children so long as you keep it quiet so the congregation does´t know about it. Then just move the Priest. Sue those ignorant bastards.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:17am
  19. Seems like I am in the minority here, but I support the firing. Public school, no, he should keep his job, but a private, christian school should be able to hire people who share the same belief system and live lives that follow the moral code set by their church.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:17am
  20. Fuck the Catholic church.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:18am
  21. Why would a gay preacher want to be involved in a Catholic school in the first place? Isn´t Catholic School an oxymoron in the first place?

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:18am
  22. I guess if your a priest and a pedophile it´s OK by the Catholic Church of the poisoned mind! :(

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:19am
  23. I certainly in NO WAY support him being fired, I just don´t think he should have been surprised.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:19am
  24. ..*teacher …not preacher. Friggin autocorrect.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:20am
  25. After the popester just made his statement?

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:20am
  26. Ky, many non catholic parents send their children to catholic schools. The schools don´t require the students to be catholic, why should the schools require the teachers to be straight?

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:21am
  27. Makes me sick!

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:21am
  28. No shit. Why the hell are people surprised?

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:22am
  29. Makes me sick also.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:23am
  30. That school apparently did not get The message delivered be Pope Francis.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:23am
  31. It´s a catholic school, HELLO PEOPLE.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:24am
  32. I am 150% for gay marriage, but he went against the rules of the Church. Gay marriage, along with in vitro fertilization, surrogacy and contraception goes against the idea of procreative marriage in their eyes. The Catechism goes so far as to call it “intrinsically disordered” (CCC 2358) which I DESPISE. He violated the rules of the church which is terrible, but the Diocese would have it no other way. They´d do the same for a woman who lives with her spouse before marriage or is using IVF as a means for pregnancy. It really is a terrible thing. :(

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:25am
  33. wow this still happens in California, amazing, that school should be sued

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:25am
  34. Evidently the Pope isn´t judging but others are!

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:27am
  35. Why does ANYONE stay in that cult?

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:28am
  36. As much as I don´t like it….. why would you want to work in a place that DOES NOT like guy people? This man seems like an amazing teacher….. I know that many school districts would gladly hire him….

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:30am
  37. Didn´t they hear the pope

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:30am
  38. I understand that people want to commemorate a historical event in their town. But I can´t help but feel that the news are turning a matrimonial ceremony into the latest reality show.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:30am
  39. @Stephanie, the Pope only said that gays should be respected and not admonished for their sexuality. Nothing about gay marriage.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:34am
  40. smh

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:38am
  41. He needs to talk to the pope.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:39am
  42. Doesn´t not judging gays also mean MYOB???

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:40am
  43. The only sin is what the church has done to him – so ugly and hateful…

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:42am
  44. “who am I to judge?”

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:43am
  45. And this is a shock?..

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:45am
  46. Hmm…I have mixed emotions on this. No Catholic or person who teaches at a Catholic school should be surprised by this behaviour – of course I feel it is wrong…but it´s like being surprised by a shark attack after you cut your finger in the ocean.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:45am
  47. not a shock…

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:46am
  48. Fucking religion.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:47am
  49. idiotic catholics

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:50am
  50. While I hate judgmental people, it´s like bathing with a bunch of chimps, don´t be surprised if you get your face clawed off.
    It´s only to be expected.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 3:00am
  51. “Who am I to judge?” Yeah, RIGHT.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 3:03am
  52. Thought the pope said it was cool?

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 3:04am
  53. disgusting but predictable

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 3:11am
  54. THAT´S SO BULL! This dude better sue the school!

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 3:12am
  55. I would sue their ass off. No excuse for bigotry over something that is now legal. I have a friend who is catholic and lesbian, and I hope she would sue too if she was put in that position.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 3:17am
  56. Yet the Pope said gay priests are ok because he is not going to judge. The school had better check with the Pope!

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 3:19am
  57. he was working in a church and had to know most aren´t big fans of us gays. no I do not like the outcome but its common sense…do not work for an organization that hates who you are. if u want to be a teacher I would do it at a regular school or become a counselor for gay kids..help OUR cause not the people who hate u for it.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 3:23am
  58. Why would they expect a straight man to be teaching at an all girl´s school? Were they really surprised? They should be more concerned about the straight men teaching there.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 3:29am
  59. Jesus would be so offended by this !!! . . . you know, that guy Jesus !!! That guy who used to hang out with twelve men !!!

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 3:33am
  60. Now, Troy. What does being catholic have to do with Jesus

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 3:41am
  61. What could he possibly do wrong at an all girls school? He could probably teach them more about compassion and self-acceptance than some of the other teachers. I went to an all girls Catholic high-school in the 80´s, and it was not a pleasant experience. I was a mess with depression, and if one teacher would have taken me under their wing in a platonic way, it probably would have boosted my self-esteem. If I could have talked to someone, who was gay too, and told me it gets better, who knows how it could have helped. If I had children, I would never send them to Catholic school. In Catholic high-school, even some of the teachers are authoritarian, snobs and homophobes.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 3:48am
  62. Who the hell wants to work for those ignorami?

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 3:53am
  63. He didn´t deserve that. It´s still hard to believe in this day in age that people can be not accepting.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 4:05am
  64. Maybe he should talk it over with the new pope.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 4:10am
  65. Absolutely despicable!!!

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 4:16am
  66. The Church cannot not recognize a state marriage

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 4:24am
  67. Disgusting assholelicks!

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 4:35am
  68. The Catholic Church is filthy.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 4:45am
  69. Sad

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 4:58am
  70. but it´s a very Catholic thing to do…

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 5:22am
  71. I´m pretty sure that´s illegal in California.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 5:24am
  72. So what´s that new Pope got to say about this – time for Francis to step up to the plate, wearing one of his favorite dresses, and talking all that “who am I to judge” stuff…I´m not holding my breath though.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 5:51am
  73. The Catholics will always be on one witch-hunt or another!

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 5:53am
  74. Lawsuit time.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 6:02am
  75. Just terrible.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 6:11am
  76. So, you can´t make a public display of your marriage. Well, they didn´t. The newspaper people did. It would seem that the church would prefer that behavior like this be kept at a level of hush hush, just like the Catholic priests who molest children in secret.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 6:39am
  77. This is just AWFUL, and in today´s day and age should NEVER happen at all. The reporter in the video however, her shirt made me want to play Q-Bert, and that also should never happen in this day and age. I hope the happy couple does win a court case against this school and win big!! :D <3

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 7:24am
  78. He is probably a wonderful teacher, but he will not get his job back at that school. When teaching at a religious school your contract states that you may not behave in a manner that contradicts the religions´ teachings. It´s like a “morals clause.” He would do better working in a public school. CA has laws that protect teachers from being fired in public schools if they are gay.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 7:51am
  79. Shame! After their Pontiff said what he said just the other day.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 8:30am
  80. So much for the religious who know nothing of Gods love!

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 9:31am
  81. Of course Small Minded Idiots.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 10:05am
  82. I don´t want to be a Debbie Downer but it is a Catholic school and we all know they don´t like us (not sure why any gays stay in that church to begin with) so this shouldn´t surprise anyone. I am sorry he lost his job but geez, go somewhere where they respect you for you!

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 12:00pm
  83. it´s ok to be gay, just don´t act on it… so sayeth the pope

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 12:09pm
  84. OH, so the catholic church can judge others even when the Pope has said he doesn´t…… Nothing new here….

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 12:09pm
  85. Stupid School, Shame on them,!!! The POPE said not to judge People …Don´t Catholics abide by the Pope??

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 12:18pm
  86. I guess they didn´t get the Pope´s memo.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 12:57pm
  87. Hearing this is SO maddening. “Land of the free,” my ass. wake up America…otherwise you´re no better than Russia.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 1:00pm
  88. This is not ´spreading faith, hope and charity´. [Love]

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 1:28pm
  89. Catholics. Extreme “Christians” who only live by the parts of the Bible that they like.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 1:36pm
  90. If they can let him work as a teacher, but cannot abide by his marriage — that´s hypocritical. Even if they did not know the nation is moving towards better LGBTQ matters (Civil Rights); they better get used to it. Especially Utah.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 1:47pm
  91. My Catholic School made me question my faith more than anything! This man was this schools “dirty little secret” for 17 years, and as long as he kept quiet, they were fine with him being gay. But one he excerized his constitutional right to marry his partner, and he came “out” to the public, that´s when the school fired him! After attending Catholic School, I started to question my faith because I am gay. But after graduation, I decided I can have my faith, and spirituality, without the four walls of a church. And without the constant “homosexuals are going to hell” rhetoric . I don´t adopt a denomination. I am just me with my beliefs <3 and I wish Mr. Bencomo and his lovely husband nothing but peace and happiness..

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 1:56pm
  92. Well if being Gay is accepted, but not the act of sex…then how the fuck do you fire him…do you KNOW he and his husband are sexually active? Hypocrites

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:09pm
  93. That is very sad. Hope he finds a new job!

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 3:07pm
  94. yep… thats how they do ya!

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 3:25pm
  95. i´m catholic…and i will never step foot in a catholic church…biggest hypocrites on this planet…and the rest of the organized religions are just a step behind them…

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 3:44pm
  96. So much for “Who am I to judge?”

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 4:19pm
  97. so much for them keeping and protecting pediphiles is so right

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 4:24pm
  98. Teaching at a Catholic school, did he really expect any different? REALLY? So what if a few people had even met his husband before. It´s okay to them (barely) as long as you don´t “flaunt” it. “sigh”

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 4:28pm
  99. double standard, he worked there for 17 years, they knew he was gay and had met his husband to be. it only became a problem when he got married.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 4:31pm
  100. That´s soo fucked up

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 4:43pm
  101. He was teaching at an all girl´s school. I think they should be more concerned about straight male teachers at that school, not gay male teachers.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 4:43pm
  102. Faculty and students do not have to be catholic in order to be employed or attend catholic schools; therefore, how could they be expected to fully embrace the “catholic moral code.” Perhaps they need to require their faculty and student body to be practicing catholics.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 4:47pm
  103. Shame on the school I hope he takes legal action.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 4:48pm
  104. Former student Brittany Littleton, 23, started a petition on Change.org to get Bencomo re-hired.

    Please go sign it at http://www.change.org/petitions/st-lucy-s-priory-high-school-give-ken-bencomo-his-job-back

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 4:52pm
  105. I signed

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 5:06pm
  106. Schools need to learn that discrimination will not be tolerated.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 5:06pm
  107. Tanya Wood…what does your comment mean? Are you saying that this man is a pedophile? Because if you are, then you would be really extremely wrong and that would classify you as ignorant. If that is what you are in fact saying, I suggest you pick up a few things to read and educate yourself because speaking like a moron is not going to get you anywhere in life!

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 5:32pm
  108. Eddie No, I think Tanya is saying wtf??? The Catholic Church protects known pedophiles but won´t allow an out, gay, married man to work at a school! It´s crazy! They are crazy!

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 5:37pm
  109. Yeah this is obscene to me because I went to an all girls catholic high school. We had a few straight, as far as I know, men working there. They were good teachers who obviously had no interest in us sexually. We also, however, had an obvious hebephile working there who used to stare at girls´ breasts. He was there for at least two years! Why his contract was signed again and/or he wasn´t fired immediately is beyond me. He was there studying to be a priest. I think he decided against it. I ran into him years later working at a bowling alley.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 5:48pm
  110. Robin – he doesn´t have a leg to stand on – as a gay man he is not protected – it is not against any law to discriminate against somebody because they´re gay……

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 7:02pm
  111. The catholic church still lives in the dark ages.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 8:56pm
  112. Diane Conklin…CA has laws that protect gays from being terminated from their jobs because they are gay. However, he worked at a religious school, and employees are not allowed to engage in any behavior that contradicts the tenets of the church. He would do much better if he applied for a teaching position at a public school.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 10:31pm
  113. Religious organizations needs to have their tax exempt status revoked

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 10:43pm
  114. what happened to “Who am I to judge” or was he just talking

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 10:58pm
  115. sad and wrong

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 11:01pm
  116. Wrong, of course, but hardly unexpected,given the Catholic Church´s position on gays, the Pope´s comments aside. Does anyone really think the Church will change their position,after all the negativity they have said,done and orchestrated in regards to gays? Seriously? Any softening of the Church´s position on gays is just politically correct public relations, nothing more and nothing less.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 11:24pm
  117. And this AFTER the Pope was quoted as saying, “Who am I to judge LGBT people.”, in an hour and a half Q&A with reporters.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 11:38pm
  118. Nothing to really like about this firing.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 11:47pm
  119. what the hell is wrong with you queer dirtbags? You must me a special kinda stupid. or queer. Russ Hebert thoughts?

    Posted on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 12:43am
  120. come on guys when you swim with alligators you will get bit! If the school is totally non federally funded school then they can hire and fire whomever!

    Posted on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 12:44am