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Washington (State)

2nd instructor at Seattle Catholic school fears dismissal over planned wedding

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

SEATTLE — A part-time musical coach at a Catholic school in Washington state said Tuesday she is engaged to her same-sex partner and is nervous about how school leaders will handle the news after they forced out a vice principal who married his partner.

Stephanie Merrow (right) and Jenny Frazier

Stephanie Merrow (right) and Jenny Frazier

Stephanie Merrow, who was hired for a second time to choreograph a musical at Eastside Catholic School in Sammamish, Wash., said she got engaged shortly after the departure of vice principal Mark Zmuda.

Merrow and her partner have been together for five years and had been talking about getting married for months. They are planning a wedding for August.

Students at Eastside Catholic have led protests in recent weeks over the departure of Zmuda. Merrow said she wanted to go public to support the students who have been leading protests on behalf of Zmuda.

“I was so proud of them that it was time to say something to back them up,” Merrow said. “They are really trying to change history and change the church. I value what they are doing.”

Calls seeking comment from Sister Mary Tracy, head of the school, and its attorney Mike Patterson were not immediately returned.

Merrow, who is not a teacher at Eastside Catholic and works only on the school musical, said she has not been impressed by the school’s handling of Zmuda and wonders if she might be treated differently because she didn’t sign the same teacher contract as he did.

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Her employment agreement was narrow in scope and didn’t discuss following Catholic teachings on issues like gay marriage, she said.

Merrow said she doesn’t think that school leaders knew she was gay.

The school and Zmuda have disputed the circumstances of his departure, with Zmuda saying he was fired and the school saying he resigned after acknowledging that his marriage violated Catholic teaching and, subsequently, the terms of his contract.

Patterson has acknowledged that school leadership floated the idea that Zmuda could possibly get a divorce to keep his job. The lawyer, however, added the suggestion was a hypothetical idea that was never seriously explored.

Eastside Catholic has about 900 students, mostly in high school.

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55 more reader comments:

  1. Coming out is a personal act of defiance it is advocacy…..fear of losing your job, fear of harassment of your family, fear of physical violence. Coming out is courage.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 5:37pm
  2. it is unfortunate that her loosing her job is a real possibility. I was raised catholic and according to the catholic teachings, they have every “right” to let her go. I do not agree with it at all. in my home town of camp hill PA, a long time teacher in a catholic school was “let go” because of her lifestyle. I am 40 yrs old and this teacher has been at the same catholic school since I was in the 5th grade and has had the same partner all this time and then this happens to her. unreal.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 5:37pm
  3. Good luck! While they won’t recognize your marriage they will fire you for it – especially since they just fired an administrator! Sad state of affairs, to say the least!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 5:40pm
  4. How narrow minded the catholic church is. Love is Love. You have the right to love who you want.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 5:41pm
  5. People shouldn’t put religion into jobs or schools. Things would be so much better.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 5:46pm
  6. Why shouldn't we have parochial schools?

    Replied on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 7:00pm
  7. Because that is only respecting one belief. If we get rid of religion in schools we thus can have equality among students, teachers, as well as no one fighting over beliefs anymore.

    Replied on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 7:02pm
  8. That’s how it works with the Roman Catholic Cult. But those Priest love those children in a sexual way. SICK

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 5:55pm
  9. PPL should be able to Marry who they want

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 5:56pm
  10. I wish them well. I’m surprised at this Catholic school though, they hired two gay teachers and probably thought highly of their teaching capabilities. Just not highly enough to let them be :(.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 5:59pm
  11. Never can understand why people cling to a religion that refuses to accept them and treats them in this way. It synonymous to me being able to somehow participate in the KKK and hope they don’t try to kill me or kick me out when they find out I’m black…

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 6:02pm
  12. Wow this woman is believe enough to be openly gay and possibly Catholic as well. She’s got courage.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 6:10pm
  13. It’s reprehensible that Catholic institutions discriminate against LGBT people–but at this point, sorry to say, it’s not surprising (and maybe not “news”).

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 6:11pm
  14. Stop the bigotry and hate against LGBTQ!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 6:14pm
  15. Why are they working for a catholic school in the first place. Shouldnt be to hard to figure out that a hate mongering sterotype perpetuateing, closed minded, selfrightous,group of sheep would predictably act on there bigotry if given any oppertunity to do so. You should be absolutely shocked if they didnt try to shame .look down on. And fire anyone representing a lifestyle thay have demonized every chance that they could.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 6:25pm
  16. I had enough these are people’s with a daily life and love for there family and friends who we to take anything away from them.everyone say they love God but want to condemn there brothers and sisters.Jesus is love.God love everyone.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 6:29pm
  17. Doesn’t Washington have anti discrimination laws? WTH?

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 6:35pm
  18. This is not a public business, it is a private institution/school.

    Replied on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 7:02pm
  19. Wrong James. It's a business.

    Replied on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 8:18pm
  20. Amazes me……too busy hiding pedophilia among their priests…….the lowest of the low…..destroying the innocence of children yet firing their gay teachers……this institution is just ridiculous……and in any case it’s 2014 and the law should bud protecting these individuals…….

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 6:40pm
  21. I went to confession for drinking, smoking and fighting with my family.. I happened to mention coming out… And all i got back was g God will forgive me for being gay… Haven’t gone back since

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 6:42pm
  22. Are these teachers not aware of these rules when they sign up for employment with Catholic schools? Especially in current media reports it should not be a surprise if they are let go. While I disagree with the Catholic church on this matter, it is sort of hard to sympathize with the teachers because they knew what they were getting themselves into and chose to do it anyway. If they decide to do it as an act of defiance then that is awesome just don’t cry about it when it happens. If you knew up front that was the repercussions and you did it anyway then you should expect the outcome. I fully support coming out and do not like closet cases but coming out usually involves a heavy cost of some kind. If they wanted to avoid that cost then she should have kept it private instead of going to the press. I wish the couple well on their upcoming nuptials and hope the one finds employment in a much more suitable environment then the Catholic Church.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 6:55pm
  23. They need to sue them! An employer can’t make up rules on the go. That’s illegal.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 6:56pm
  24. They have no legal standing in this case.

    Replied on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 7:03pm
  25. I disagree. They're still employers.

    Replied on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 8:18pm
  26. I don’t understand why all of these gay people keep going to work for institutions that despise them.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 7:11pm
  27. This is one of the many reasons I am no longer a catholic. I couldn’t stand the patriarchal hypocrisy!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 7:18pm
  28. The church has every right to can her. It is their belief and she knew that going into this.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 7:25pm
  29. It’s the Catholic Church!
    I am a Lesbian and as much as I wish church’s were my “Jesus like” they aren’t not. So if you choose to work for one as a Gay person knowing this then you get what you get when you come out!
    It’s unfortunate, but reality
    Find another job somewhere that’s more loving!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 7:26pm
  30. HOPE ALL GOES WELL!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 7:49pm
  31. She can get another job, in public school. They will welcome her.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 8:10pm
  32. Ridiculous outmoded beliefs. Why should people who love each other not be able to marry. Procreation is overrated!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 8:12pm
  33. Gosh but they look so much alike, they gorgeous

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 8:18pm
  34. Ladies let me tell you something…true love is hard to find so hold onto it with your life. … If you loose your job (which I hope you dont) you still come out on top. No religion has the right to tell you who you can love and who you cant. Sometimes I swear people forget to read the bible and practise what they preach. God is suppose to be all about love not hate. I have a right to say this because I was raised as a Jehovahs Witness and well I choose my wife over the religion and would do it all over again!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 8:26pm
  35. Pretty soon there will be 2 teachers left in any Catholic school. Take away the tax breaks & see how well the Catholic schools function.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 9:06pm
  36. The ‘reality’ is….WE ARE EVERYWHERE…Hello ?…& We are NOT ‘going-away’…PERIOD…

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 9:49pm
  37. Very “christian” of them, eh?

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 10:17pm
  38. Stop teaching in Catholic schools…that cult of a religion isn’t going to change, go where you are welcome

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 10:24pm
  39. What?

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 10:49pm
  40. good luck god created all of us and loves us for who we are they need to understand this god created equality

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 10:55pm
  41. Coming out must continue. Homophobia must end. The church must follow Jesus and Love your neighbor as yourselve by giving them justice and equality.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 11:25pm
  42. just so wrong keep your job or be happy and marry who you love no body should have to make this decsion

    Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 1:03am
  43. I have mixed feelings on this. You work for an anti-gay organization that stands behind their religious beliefs in their morals clause. And they are surprised they are getting fired.

    News coverage. Yes. The public needs to know what the organizations do. Especially if your a progressive that wants to send your kids there for a better education.

    Wonder if that school is getting vouchers. In Indiana the current governor has created a shadow Department of Education for all of the private schools receiving state funding.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 2:21am
  44. Don’t work for an intolerant employer. Move to public schools.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 4:13am
  45. Are we still in the dark ages?

    Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 4:52am
  46. sweet!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 5:07am
  47. She should just find a non-religious school to teach at since catholics are homophobic

    Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 5:25am
  48. god loves you so don’t worry

    Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 5:46am
  49. Just unfair and mean spirited….not what Jesus would approve of.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 5:54am
  50. I sense more walk-outs?

    Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 5:54am
  51. you stand your rights as humans .. as Americans.. you have a large family in the LGBTQ.. .. its not right what they do .. .. who do they think they are anyways.. there not anyones Judge .. only God .. our heavenly father .. and his only son (Jesus ) that gave his life for all his children can Judge..

    Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 6:04am
  52. watch the movie” loving Annabelle” .. i wish they would make a #2 on the movie.. its a good movie.. and your story is a match to it

    Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 6:06am
  53. Washington is really starting to piss me off!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 6:26am
  54. Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 8:06am
  55. Jesus would accept them

    Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 9:22am