Hundreds of Seattle students are protesting following the resignation of their beloved vice principal who was allegedly urged to leave his job after the administration found out he had married his gay partner.
Administrators said Mark Zmuda, the vice principal of Eastside Catholic High School, violated his contract with the school by marrying another man.
“If you make an exception here, where does that lead you?” said Mike Patterson, the attorney for the Archdiocese of Seattle and Eastside Catholic High School. (According to AmericanCatholic.org, “The Catholic Church opposes gay marriage and the social acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex relationships.”) “All of a sudden you become a non-Catholic school.”
Zmuda, who is also the school’s swim coach, is well-liked by both students and faculty. He was married last year. On Tuesday, the administration became aware of Zmuda’s same-sex marriage through other employees at the school.
Patterson said Zmuda willingly resigned, while students say he was forced to do so.
Students from Eastside Catholic and other Seattle schools have scheduled sit-ins to show their solidarity with Zmuda. Bradley Strode, a senior at Eastside Catholic, estimates the number of students involved in the protests is in the thousands.
“Of our school of 600, about 450 of us participated in the sit-in yesterday, and a good half to three quarters of students from other [Seattle] schools have been protesting too,” Strode told ABC News today.
Strode also wrote a petition on Change.org, which has reached over 10,000 signatures. The petition states in part, “We are uniting in order to change the Catholic Church’s opposition of gay marriage. It is time to revisit the policy and act as Jesus would have, loving and supporting every person regardless of their marital status.”
Strode said his goal is to get as many signatures as possible to have a strong case to present to the Archdiocese about changing the Church’s policies on gay marriage.
“This isn’t an isolated issue,” said Strode. “We see this kind of thing happening throughout the country.”
The school’s attorney explained that Eastside Catholic was merely abiding by the rules of the Archdiocese and the Catholic Church.
“I like him; he’s a great guy,” Patterson told ABC News. “We’re going to give him all the transitional help he needs. I feel badly for the guy.”
Today is the vice principal’s last day at Eastside Catholic, and students plan on attending the swim meet he will be coaching this afternoon to show him their support.
“The Church teaches unconditional love, and we should see that on all fronts including in same sex marriage,” said Strode.
Zmuda did not respond to calls from ABC News.