I first wrote about Mark Zmuda a few weeks back [see post HERE] but here’s a quick refresher:
Zmuda was the vice principal at Eastside Catholic High School in Sammamish, Washington until the day he married his same-sex partner. Then he was fired for violating both the teachings of the Catholic Church, and a contract he signed when hired by the school.
Now, students at the school instantly began protesting and demanding that Zmuda be rehired, but that has yet to happen, though a new wrinkle into what goes on at this school, and inside the Catholic Church, has come up.
Stephanie Merrow, a former part-time musical coach at Eastside Catholic High School — and we’ll get to why she’s a ‘former’ coach in a moment — was feeling a little nervous recently because she had just become engaged to her same-sex partner and after Mark Zmuda’s firing for marrying his partner, she was sure she’d be next in the unemployment line.
Merrow said she was nervous before meeting with the school’s principal, Polly Skinner, and other administrators, to discuss her engagement, and future at the school, but now says that meeting was “very warm and welcoming” and that, unlike Zmuda, the school has given her a new employment agreement as an independent contractor.
“She was very nice, she made me feel very valued. I got a little raise.”—Stephanie Merrow
She got a new contract, and a little raise, for doing the exact same thing that seemingly resulted in Mark Zmuda’s firing? How does that happen?
Well, it’s all in the verbiage used. Merrow is no longer a “part-time” music teacher and coach at the school; she is now an “independent contractor” and, as such, is apparently not held to the same strict rules of Church teachings. Her engagement, to a woman of all things, no longer matters, even though she is doing the exact same work she’s always done at the school.
It’s believed that Merrow’s status would not have changed, thus allowing her to keep her job, if she hadn’t announced her engagement, and it’s unclear if Mark Zmuda would have been offered a newly worded contract and been reinstated as an “independent contractor” teacher.
So, is this continued hypocrisy in the Church, where gay men are treated differently than gay women? Or is this a new trend in the Church to find ways to bend the rules to fit the changing times? Is it due to the fact that Zmuda was an administrator and Merrow simply a teacher/coach?
I’m kind of leaning toward hypocrisy because, well, that’s what the Catholic Church does, and because Mark Zmuda was never offered a change in status as an option to keep his job. He was terminated — even though the school first said he resigned — the very moment he announced his marriage. Stephanie Merrow was allowed to keep her job, albeit it with a new title.
The fight for Zmuda’s reinstatement goes on, however, as students have tweeted the Pope — who infamously suggested that the Catholic Church stop marginalizing LGBT folks — in the hopes that he might offer his opinion. And students at Eastside are calling January 31st as “Z Day” and “encourage students, at Catholic schools or otherwise, as well as any other impassioned individuals, to proudly wear the color orange on that day. In so doing, we will be showing solidarity with Mark Zmuda, as well as expressing our hopes for an enlightened perspective on issues of sexuality in the Catholic Church.”
Here’s hoping …..