A Catholic Church near Charlotte, North Carolina has fired Steav Bates-Congdon, their longtime music director, for marrying his partner of 23 years in an upstate New York ceremony.
On Jan. 19, just back from a honeymoon trip to Mexico, followed by an emergency stay at Carolinas Medical Center for a ruptured appendix, he checked out of the hospital and dropped by St. Gabriel. There, he was handed a note by the Rev. Frank O’Rourke, the pastor with whom he had closely worked for more than four years. It read: “Employees of St. Gabriel … are expected to live within the moral tradition of the Church…Your civil marriage stands in direct opposition to the teaching of the Catholic Church, therefore ending your employment with us, effective today.” Contacted to discuss the firing, O’Rourke referred all questions to diocesan spokesman David Hains.
The firing came four days after a Supreme Court ruling that churches are exempt from employment anti-discrimination laws. St. Gabriel claims that the timing is a mere coincidence.