Post submitted by Diane Martin, HRC Religion and Faith Assistant

On January 31, more than 200 people filled St. Joseph’s parish in Seattle, Washington for a panel discussion following wide-spread protests in support of Mark Zmuda, former assistant principle of Eastside Catholic High School who was fired in December after entering a civil marriage with his same-sex partner.

Participants in the panel included longtime AIDS and LGBT activist, Cleve Jones; St. Joseph’s parishioner, Mary deRosas; and Zeena Rivera, a senior at Holy Names Academy in Seattle.  During the panel Rivera explained that she cannot, nor should she have to separate her queer identity and her Catholic identity, courageously saying, “Both of these communities are my home.”

Mary deRosas echoed Rivera’s sentiment, insisting that, “Whatever divisions are used to categorize people are human constructs, not God’s constructs.”  DeRosas attributed much of the support from local-area Catholics to the organization Catholics for Marriage Equality Washington State, a local group which worked in close partnership with HRC during the 2012 elections to secure marriage equality in the state and which continues working to bring heightened engagement with these issues,  mobilizing Catholic laity in support of LGBT equality.

At the end of the evening, Zmuda joined the panelists on stage and announced the launch of the Stand With Mr. Z Foundation, which will aim to provide assistance to victims of workplace or school discrimination.  Specifically, the foundation will address and support issues that touch on tolerance, diversity, equal rights, and youth empowerment, so that in the future, Rivera and other young Catholics across the country don’t have to fear losing their jobs because of who they love or how they identify.

Catholic laity and organizations across the country are speaking out in support of LGBT equality both on the altar and in the workplace.  HRC’s Religion and Faith Program stands in support of and continues to work with Catholics for Marriage Equality in states like Washington, Rhode Island, Delaware and Oregon to bring about LGBT equality both in the pews and under the law. 

HRC’s Religion and Faith Program seeks to engage all faith traditions in a deeper dialogue on questions of fairness and equality for LGBT Americans. Interested in keeping up with news like this?Subscribe to HRC’s Religion & Faith Newsletter now.

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