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Gay administrator at local high school fired

Mark Zmuda, the former vice principal at Eastside Catholic High School, was fired this year for marrying his same-sex partner.

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zmudaSAMMAMISH — The former vice principal of Eastside Catholic School speaks out in an interview with a student.

Mark Zmuda said he did not resign — he says he was let go last week after school officials found out Zmuda married his gay partner.

It’s a story that’s captured the attention of the nation. Local Catholic students continue to rally the church to change its stance on same sex marriage after Zmuda lost his job.

“To set the record straight I was terminated,” Zmuda said.

Catrina Crittenden, an Eastside Catholic student, says the former vice principal asked her to do the interview. Sitting next to his husband, Zmuda made it clear that he did not willingly resign.

“I was told I was going to be let go,” Zmuda said. “It was difficult for me because this is definitely not a decision that I would want to have happened to me.”

The interview lasted 45 minutes and Catrina shared the first minute of the dialogue with Q13 Fox News.

“I asked why I was being terminated. They said because I violated Catholic teaching,” Zmuda said. “I asked if it was a breach of contract, they said no. I asked if it had anything to do with job performance or evaluations, they also said no. They said it was because I was married to a man.”

Michael Patterson, an attorney for Eastside Catholic, is disputing Zmuda’s story saying there was a mutual agreement.

“He unequivocally indicated he was resigning because he understood the contractual relationship he had with the school,” Patterson said.

Patterson went on to say.

“I was absolutely astonished and surprised by this interview that he apparently gave to this student,” Patterson said.

So far, students are not backing down.

Supporters have staged sit-ins at several Catholic schools, protests on the streets and in front of the Archdiocese of Seattle.

“Response that he got from the high school – he was amazed in general,” Crittenden said.

In just over a week, a petition on Change.org to get Zmuda’s job back has collected more than 28,000 signatures as of Friday night. But school officials say they are not changing their decision.

“We have a principal to live up to we have our first amendment rights just as everyone in this country has their first amendment rights,” Patterson said.

Students are planning another protest outside Eastside Catholic on Saturday starting at 10:30 a.m.

EASTSIDECATHOLICSEATTLE — More determined than ever, Eastside Catholic School students hope to change the church they love, because they say right is right and love is love.

“He was forced to resign because he married his partner and we’re hoping that we can try and change the way the church views gay marriage and allow him to come back to our school,” student Ben Hawkins said.

They waved signs and handed out candy canes while chanting ‘save Mister Z as he’s fondly known.

This was the latest rally the students have held since Mark Zmuda’s resignation.

They first staged a sit-in and then lined the streets – protesting the move.

Friday, they protested at Seattle’s Archdiocese.

Students say they’ll stand their ground until ‘Mister Z’ gets his job back and they’re getting a lot of support.

“I’m a very strong advocate of LBGT rights and I believe what the Catholic Church believes about homosexuality is inherently flawed and does not relate to the science behind it and I support the Eastside Catholic students in their fight to change the church,” supporter Abby Anastasio said.

Seattle Mayor elect Ed Murray attended one of their rallies and spoke with the students and students from other catholic schools have joined in.

Now with 26-thousand signatures on a change.org petition their protest has gone global.

They hope it will reach church leaders and even Pope Francis.

No one knows if the church will change its rule, but the students vow to continue to rally until Mr. Z is reinstated.

Supporters say the goal is to encourage the church to follow its own teachings about love and acceptance of all people.

SEATTLE — Students continue to protest after their vice principal is forced to resign for getting married to his gay partner.

Eastside Catholic School in Sammamish says the issue is not that he is gay but that the Catholic doctrine does not accept the marriage. A marriage that is now legal in Washington.

zmudaOn Friday, more than a 100 students chanted “love always wins, change the charge” outside the Archdiocese of Seattle hoping their voices would be heard.

Vice Principal Mark Zmuda violated his contract with Eastside Catholic when he married his gay partner over the summer.

“The students love him, good guy, great teacher and good administrator,” Eastside parent Katie Myers.

The Catholic Church does not approve of same-sex marriage so when he was forced to resign, it took no time for students to protest and challenge the church.

“It’s grown bigger than him — it’s grown as a movement from stopping things like that from happening,” student Falen Wilkes said.

“Their flock, their schools, this entire generation of Catholics disagrees with this rule. What’s the point of having it?  Why in God’s name is it still here,” student Cole Fischer said.

Students from several other Catholic schools have joined the fight.

“You know, risk getting detention to be in solidarity with Eastside Catholic,” Fischer said.

A petition on change.org already had more than 18,000 signatures by Friday night.

“I hope this doesn’t stop here. It’s been two days and we have thousands and thousands of people all over the country and all over the world are supporting us,” one student said.

Seattle Mayor-elect Ed Murray also addressed the crowd.

“As a gay man I grew up in a family that has Catholic values,” Murray said.

Murray says he didn’t show up to argue about the Catholic doctrine but about what was fair.

“Challenging church doctrine wouldn’t be my place, and I wouldn’t do it as a Roman Catholic, but I do think we need to challenge when people are not treated fairly in the workplace,” Murray said.

Students are determined to stand their ground until Zmuda is back.

“When we get back from winter break, we will keep protesting. I doubt we will go to school the first day,” said one student.

Attorney Michael Patterson, who is representing the schoo< released a statement.

“Eastside Catholic  School and its Vice Principal have agreed with mutual regret on his resignation from employment. The Catholic Church is clear on same-sex marriage and the school has no discretion in the matter. We very much appreciate his many contributions while he has served as our Vice Principal. We anticipate his excellent future at another school and we wish him the very best of success.”

Q13 Fox News also reached out to the Archdiocese of Seattle but got no response as of Friday night.

SEATTLE — Local Catholic high school students and others demonstrated outside the Archdiocese of Seattle Friday to protest the ouster of the vice principal of Sammamish’s Eastside Catholic School, who was forced to resign after his same-sex marriage.

It wasn’t just students from Eastside Catholic protesting on behalf of former Vice Principal Mark Zmuda, there were also students from several other Catholic schools.

eastside students protestThey stood outside the Archdiocese of Seattle building with signs and chanted, “Love always wins; change the church.”

Seattle Mayor-elect Ed Murray made a brief appearance to show his support for the students.

“I just want to be in solidarity with the students because the students are the ones who will make a difference,” said Murray, who is also married to a same-sex partner. “We are seeing a generational change being led by young people you see here.”

Friday was Zmuda’s last day at Eastside Catholic. The openly gay administrator was forced out of the school after he got married to his partner. The school said the issue is not that Zmuda is gay but that the Catholic doctrine does not allow gay marriage. Students say the doctrine is outdated and change is inevitable.

“I understand the church policy on gay marriage and I understand they are protected by law, but I feel like, if this is ever going to change, it’s going to be internal pressure that’s going to do it,” Seattle Preparatory School student Cole Fischer said.  Seattle Prep is a private Jesuit school on Seattle’s Capitol Hill.

“I am here to support my daughter. I am just so proud of her and her classmates with what they have done standing up for their teacher,” Eastside Catholic parent Katie Myers said.

On Thursday, the students protested at Eastside Catholic. On Friday they took their fight to the Archdiocese of Seattle, hoping that would get Zmuda his job back. The students are hoping to present a petition to the diocese. In just two days the petition on change.org had already gathered more than 18,000 signatures.

There was no response to our calls as of Friday evening from the diocese. A lawyer representing Eastside Catholic said they respect the right to protest but that there are no plans to rehire Zmuda.

SAMMAMISH, Wash. — The sudden resignation of a beloved swim coach and school administrator because of his gay wedding has shocked the students and staff at Eastside Catholic School.

zmudaKids were so outraged they marched into the streets in protest.

The fact that Vice Principal Mark Zmuda is gay isn’t the issue, the school said. The problem Eastside Catholic has with Zmuda is that he married another man – even though same-sex marriage is legal in Washington.

“Mark’s same-sex marriage over the summer violated his employment contract with the school,” the school said in a letter sent to parents. “As a Catholic school, Eastside Catholic abides by the official teachings of the Catholic Church, and as such, the decision to discontinue his employment was determined by the Catholic Church.”

The student demonstration against the decision began inside. Students at the religious school skipped classes to protest what they believe is Zmuda’s forced resignation.

“We’re all here for him; we accept him for who he is,” said student Julia Burns. “We’re ashamed that this has happened. We’re going to do everything we can to stop it.”

But their protest soon moved to the streets, where nearly 100 kids lined 228th Avenue shouting cheers in support of their former vice principal.

Zmuda has been working for nearly a year at Eastside Catholic School.

Zmuda married his partner in July shortly after same-sex marriage was legalized in Washington state.

Mike Patterson,  a lawyer for Eastside Catholic, said that church teachings don’t approve of same-sex marriages.

“Mark understands when he agreed to work for a Catholic school, one of the requirements is you have to follow the magisterium (the authority that lays down the religious teachings) of the church,” Patterson said in a statement.

Once the school discovered Zmuda was married to a man, he resigned, effective Friday.

But clearly the students at Eastside Catholic believe that mentality is outdated.

“Why fire someone for that reason, that’s not a good reason to fire someone,” said student Josh Huff. “That’s why we’re having the protest, it doesn’t seem right to me.”

“I think it’s an issue because I thought people saw past this at this point,” said Burns. “It’s now been a law in Washington state and the fact that our school, Catholic or not, can’t see past what’s right or wrong is disgusting.”

Some kids say they plan to gather signatures in a petition – and present that to the Archdiocese of Seattle in an effort to get Zmuda’s job back.

Plus, those students won’t be coming to class on Friday. Their Christmas break begins early because of snow in the forecast – and the emotional day everyone had on campus Thursday.

Eastside vice principal

Twitter Photo

SAMMAMISH — Students and staff at Eastside Catholic School were protesting Thursday morning after discovering their vice principal was asked to resign because of his same-sex marriage.

The demonstration started inside when students at the religious school skipped class to protest what they say was Zmuda’s forced resignation.

“We’re all here for him, we accept him for who he is. We’re ashamed that this has happened. We’re going to do everything we can to stop it,” said student Julia Burns.

Their protest soon moved to the streets. About 100 students lined 228th Avenue shouting cheers in support of the vice principal.

Lawyer Mike Patterson, a spokesperson for Zmuda, said he agreed to resign after school officials learned he had married a man.

“Mark understands when he agreed to work for a Catholic school one of the requirements is you have to follow the magisterium of the church. The Catholic Church does not approve same-sex marriages. He is resigning as a result of that,” Patterson said.

Zmuda’s resignation takes effect Friday. He worked for the school for more than a year.

School officials sent a letter to students and parents addressing the resignation:

Parent letter

Students also sent hundreds of tweets using the hashtag #KeepMrZ2013 to show their support.

Students said they planned to gather signatures in a petition to present to the Archdiocese of Seattle in an effort to get Zmuda’s job back.

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