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Washington (State)

Catholic students rally to protest ‘forced’ departure of gay vice-principal

Saturday, December 21, 2013

SEATTLE — Students at a Seattle-area Catholic school are gaining national attention for their protest over the forced departure of a gay vice principal.

An online petition started by the senior class president of Eastside Catholic was the third fastest growing U.S. petition on change.org Friday, attracting around 15,000 signatures in one day.

The petition was launched after Vice Principal Mark Zmuda resigned under pressure from school administrators after they learned he had married his same-sex partner.

Joshua Trujillo, SeattlePI.com (AP)
Area Catholic high school students rally in front of the Chancery building for the Archdiocese of Seattle after Eastside Catholic’s Vice Principal Mike Zmuda, resigned his position after officials with the Archdiocese discovered that he was in a same-sex marriage. Zmuda was told the marriage violated his contract.

Joshua Trukillo, SeattlePI.com (AP)

Joshua Trujillo, SeattlePI.com (AP)

Joshua Trukillo, SeattlePI.com (AP)

Joshua Trujillo, SeattlePI.com (AP)

Joshua Trukillo, SeattlePI.com (AP)

Joshua Trujillo, SeattlePI.com (AP)

Bradley Strode said the students want to effect change within the wider Catholic Church, with an ultimate goal of altering the Catholic Church’s stance on gay marriage.

“Realistically, what we can do is try to change the way the Catholic Church talks about gay marriage,” said Strode, 17, of Bellevue. “I don’t think it’s right for a man who was such a good administrator to be fired for something that had no effect on his performance.”

Strode said an on-campus protest Thursday was treated with respect by school staff. His argument is with the Seattle archdiocese and the broader church.

Strode, who describes himself as a confirmed Catholic who doesn’t go to church every Sunday, said he and other young members of his faith have been inspired by Pope Francis’ statements that the church should not judge homosexuals or interfere spiritually with the lives of gays and lesbians.

“That’s one of the reasons why we feel like this protest can gain traction,” he said.

Strode said both of his parents have applauded his advocacy, and most students at the school joined in the protest that began with a sit-in inside the school.

“The administrators were very supportive of us,” he added.

This was Zmuda’s first year as an administrator at the school with nearly 700 high school students and more than 250 middle school students in Sammamish, a Seattle suburb.

A message left Friday at a phone listing for a Mark Zmuda in nearby Issaquah wasn’t immediately returned.

Eastside Catholic attorney and spokesman Mike Patterson said Zmuda signed a contract that stated he would follow the church’s official teachings, and gay marriage violates that contract.

A call to the Seattle Archdiocese requesting comment was not immediately returned Friday.

Patterson said the school only recently learned Zmuda had married his same-sex partner. He also says Zmuda is a good administrator and they plan to give him a good reference.

Washington’s voter-approved gay marriage law took effect just over a year ago.

Strode called Zmuda a humble guy whom students felt they could relate to. He said the school has gay students and is welcoming, tolerant and respectful of people who are different.

Besides being class president, Strode wrestles, plays lacrosse and is a religious leader at the school.

“I’ve always had pretty conservative political beliefs, too,” Strode said. “This is something I believe goes beyond politics.”

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37 more reader comments:

  1. This Catholic Diocese should be ashamed-if Jesus were alive he would be at the Rally too

    Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 7:23pm
  2. Where is the Pope? The Advocate man of the year? Disgusting….

    Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 7:23pm
  3. at least more people are supporting the lgbt community, thank you :)

    Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 7:23pm
  4. The Pope needs to say something!

    Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 7:24pm
  5. This shows we r moving forward. Thank u, kids. :)

    Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 7:27pm
  6. Its sad that kids are more accepting then most adults…

    Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 7:30pm
  7. As a lifelong Catholic I am so proud of these young folks – the majority of us – all ages – have just had enough and we’re not leaving – we’re just going to stand for ‘OUR Church’ and get change done! Seeing this students doing this gives me great hope!

    Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 7:31pm
  8. Guys guess what:

    33yrs of Jesus’s life it was law for homosexuals to be put to death in his city

    ….& Jesus never said anything in protest about it;)

    Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 7:31pm
  9. Those catholic who are against of homos are uneducated! They cant be catholic!

    Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 7:32pm
  10. this makes my heart feel so big!!

    Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 7:33pm
  11. What a wonderful thing to see the students rally like this.

    Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 7:33pm
  12. I love being CATHOLIC and the CATHOLIC CHURCH OR COMMUNITY LOVES GAYS!

    Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 7:34pm
  13. I am so proud of these students!!!

    Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 7:40pm
  14. I applaud those kids.

    Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 7:49pm
  15. I read this article all the way through, and I greatly admire these kids. They are our future. I criticized a post just like this, very angry at Catholics, and I am one so very ashamed of them and got deleted. Guess they could not stand a straight standing up for the gays. Too bad.

    Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 8:23pm
  16. Wow! How Godly of them to cast him out…wasn’t about the same thing done to Jesus? Clearly in a worse and different way,but still the same! Smh! How very very Godly of them!

    Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 8:24pm
  17. Bravo!

    Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 8:53pm
  18. So glad that this generation will eventually replace the one that has produced the hate.

    Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 9:00pm
  19. Good kids This is going to be a valuable lesson in the social justice that was the basis of Jesus’s teaching!

    Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 9:08pm
  20. Hooray for the students- bigotry & prejudice cannot be tolerated!!

    Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 9:09pm
  21. That’s fucking pathetic, how worthless are people like this so ignorant that they have to act like it’s the 1950s because their minds never evolved like the rest of the world

    Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 9:16pm
  22. Ummm, well Maybe stating the obvious here, but wasn’t he on contract with a church ran school and knew their system of “standards/beliefs” didn’t coincide with his personal life and that he could be affected by that? I’m sure he read the contract…

    Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 9:27pm
  23. Im a former student at ECHS, class of '05. Eastside is NOT governed by the church or archdiocese. It is an independent private high school. This was a choice made by school administrators. By the way, gluttony is a sin against church teachings too. Still waiting for the resignation of all people of heft employed by ECHS. So no, you arent stating the obvious here, just making a misinformed assertion.

    Replied on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 11:29am
  24. That is horrible. Good for the kids support what is right. Love is love no matter who it is.

    Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 9:45pm
  25. I love what these kids are doing. Frankly, the guy shouldn’t fight to keep the job if they’re not okay with his already present marriage. Its so sad they have to make an issue out of something that doesn’t have to be an issue… I hope he finds a job at a more tolerant and accepting school.

    Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 9:52pm
  26. love is love

    Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 10:07pm
  27. That is a nice thing these kids are doing. That is love.

    Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 11:41pm
  28. DON THEY HAVE THE APPROVAL OF POPE FRANCIS!!!!

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 12:28am
  29. Great: these kids don’t care who their teacher goes to bed with – provided that he’s a good teacher…

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 1:59am
  30. So proud of these students.

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 2:15am
  31. I LOVE these kids!!!!! xxoo

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 3:39am
  32. Glad they are supporting him!
    Did u hear that Phil Robertson?!!

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 3:44am
  33. Sometimes athiests act godlier than actual christians. But then again god is a sadist. brb I’m cooking my baby.

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 3:47am
  34. Because if you are a good person people will stand up for you no matter what because it is an injustice plain and simple

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 10:43am
  35. Love them kiiiiiiiiids!!!

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 11:00am
  36. This is my high school. Having been a troubled closeted teen during my years as a student, this article is both depressing and encouraging.

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 11:22am
  37. Film on LGBT rights now creating sensation in India. watch the movie online @ http://www.zingreel.comhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwwQufTPZ1s...

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 12:03pm