Tuesday, March 13, 2012

You're Getting Married?? You're Fired!!

Al Fischer [l] and Charlie Robin
Al Fischer, a popular music teacher at St. Ann Catholic School in St. Louis lost his job this week after church officials heard that he was planning to get married in New York state later this year. Oh, yeah, he was marrying  Charlie Robin; his partner of twenty-plus years.
Fischer confirmed to the media that he was indeed fired from his job--one he has held for the last four years--but refused to comment further, and instead, referred to a letter he'd emailed to his students' parents shortly after his termination. In it, Fischer tells those parents of "my joyful news"--that he'd planned to marry his partner--and "my sad news....that I can't be your music teacher anymore."
Charlie Robin says the couple's relationship was in no way a secret at St. Ann and that the only reason Fischer was fired was because a visiting representative of the St. Louis Archdiocese overheard him talking about his wedding plans. After that visit, Fischer was told he would be fired March 9, which happened to be the couple's 20th anniversary and the day of their planned wedding. 
This made Charlie Robin angry. And, as we are apt to do these days, he posted his anger and frustration on his Facebook page February 16; Al Fischer was fired the next day.
A spokesbigot for the Archdiocese said, via email, 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" but she offered no other details about the decision.
St Ann's pastor, Reverend Bill Kempf, also supplied an email statement, saying he was "recently informed by one of its teachers of his plan to unite in marriage with an individual of the same sex. With full respect of this individual's basic human dignity, this same-sex union opposes Roman Catholic teaching as it cannot realize the full potential a marital relationship is meant to express. As a violation of the Christian Witness Statement that all Catholic educators in the Archdiocese of St. Louis are obliged to uphold, we relieved this teacher of his duties."
With full respect to basic human dignity, you're fired, not because you're gay, but because you're getting married.
The Christian Witness Statement says all who serve in Catholic education should, among other requirements, "not take a public position contrary to the Catholic Church" and "demonstrate a public life consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church."
See, it's okay to be Catholic and gay, you just have to be celibate. Or a priest, I'm guessing.
And Fischer did sign a witness statement, though Robin says, "We just didn't realize we were making a 'public' stand. There's nothing that's been hidden about our relationship at any point. I go to the staff parties. I show up at the school concerts. ... It doesn't matter until somebody with the Archdiocese is sitting in the room."
Sounds like a closeted homosexual got his stain robes in a twist. Which is exactly what happened...I mean the part about the robes being twisted, I have no direct knowledge that the man from the Archdiocese is a self-loathing closeted homosexual.
Parents of students at St. Ann Catholic School knew Al Fischer was gay, and knew he was in a long-term relationship with his partner, and weren't at all bothered by it. Most, in fact, are upset over Fischer's firing, citing his impressive work with the school's music program and his popularity among students and parents.
Al Fischer doesn't blame the school for his firing, saying the principal and the parish priest "are still there for me in a big way.....I think the word has been well spread that this is not the fault of St. Ann School or its leadership, and I want to emphasize that I get that, too." Fischer's letter to parents also urged them to talk to their children: "A family conversation about whether or not justice was served here could be a great thing...I do not want the lesson from this for the kids to be, 'Keep your mouth shut, hide who you are or what you think if it will get you in trouble.'"
Even if it gets you fired, silence isn't worth it.
The Archdiocese of St. Louis would have been happy to keep Al Fischer, if he'd remained unmarried to his partner. They would have kept him, if he'd stayed silent and one foot in the closet and one foot out. But Al Fischer wanted to get married, and for that he lost his job, and his students lost a great teacher.
So freaking Christ-like, eh?
Still, a happy ending for Al Fischer and Charlie Robin. The two men were married this past weekend in Central Park.



Bill Dameron said...

And how many other teachers were fired for being divorced or committing adultery? Zero, I am sure. The hypocrisy of the catholic church at your service...

Cubby said...

The part of all this anti-gay activity the Catholic church is engaged in the troubles me most is the fact that so many (a majority? a vast majority?) of the priests are gay and they are being forced by political pressure within the church to conduct themselves in such an unchristian manner. The poor priests are caught in the middle.

froggy said...

We need a new commandment - Mindeth your owneth beeswax.

Tiger Chanter said...

Just another reason for the congregations of America to tell Pope Nazi and Rome to go fuck themselves, and instead form their own church!

www.DiatribesAndOvations.com said...

I have mixed feelings about this story. I've read quite a bit about it and understand that he knew exactly where he was working and had agreed to their terms. So, his dismissal, while abhorrant to right-thinking people, is not surprising.

That being said. I hope he makes the rounds on the talk show circuit, writes a tell-all book, makes TONS more money than he would have as a teacher and lives happily ever after with his supportive husband.

Bitchy Bartender said...

If it were a public school, I agree it would be wrong, but a catholic school has every right to only want staff who follow catholic rules. My dad works for a christian college, and they've fired members of the board of directors for getting divorced or being caught having an affair. You do sign a pledge when you're hired, and if you break that pledge, they have every right to fire you. Why did a gay man even sign that pledge? When he was presented with it, he should have realized this was not the best workplace for him and looked for a job in the public sector or in a non-religious private school.