A popular music teacher at a St. Louis area Catholic school has been fired after church officials learned of his plans to marry his partner of 20 years in New York, one of six states where same-sex couples can wed.
Al Fischer confirmed to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he was fired on Feb. 17 from St. Ann Catholic School in north St. Louis County, and in a statement from the church, Pastor Rev. Bill Kempf said that Fisher’s “plan to unite in marriage” was in opposition to Roman Catholic teaching and confirmed that “we relieved this teacher of his duties.”
Fischer’s partner, Charlie Robin, executive director of Washington University’s Edison Theatre, told the Post-Dispatch that the couple’s relationship was in no way a secret at St. Ann and that Fischer was fired after a representative of the St. Louis Archdiocese overheard him talking to co-workers about his wedding plans.
Shortly thereafter, according to Robin, Fischer was told he would be fired March 9, the couple’s 20th anniversary and the day of their planned nuptials. But after Robin posted the news of Fischer’s soon-to-come firing on Facebook on Feb. 16, Fischer was fired the next day, Robin said.
A spokeswoman for the St. Louis Archdiocese said that the Archdiocese “fully supports the action taken at St. Ann Parish School as it is in full compliance with the Christian Witness Statement signed by every educator in the Catholic school system.”
The Christian Witness Statement, which educators sign when applying for Archdiocese work, says all who serve in Catholic education should “demonstrate a public life consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
Last month, the music director at a Charlotte, N.C. Catholic church also lost his job after marrying his partner of 23 years in New York. Steav Bates-Congdon was fired from St. Gabriel Catholic Church in south Charlotte in January after returning home from his honeymoon.
A January U.S. Supreme Court ruling allows churches and their schools to hire and fire ministerial employees without government interference.