As gay people, we are certainly no strangers to criticism, hatred and discrimination coming from the Catholic Church. And those who stand against equality are very fast to make claims that if marriage equality is passed, they will most certainly be sued until gays can marry in their churches. Despite all evidence to the contrary, they continue to make these bogus statements.
Of course, we see the utter hypocrisy coming from a place that has been no stranger to sexual scandals for generation upon generation, but what about the gays and lesbians who are still practicing Catholics? Specifically, what about the gay employees who continue to work for an employer which promotes intolerance against them?
One such former employee, Steav Bates-Congdon, worked as music director for St. Gabriel Catholic Church in Charlotte, NC. Steav had worked for the congregation since 2004, and parishioners claim he’d been very open about his sexuality and his relationship of 23 years since his first job interviews. So imagine his surprise when he returned from his honeymoon after getting hitched in New York, to find his job was no more.
After a visit to the church following an emergency hospital stay for a burst appendix, he was handed a note by Rev. Frank O’Rourke which stated: “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.”
In June of 2011, Steav told Rev. O’Rourke of his intended nuptials and O’Rourke responded with a “Congratulations, I’m happy for you,” and followed with “but I can’t give you my blessing.” Steav replied “I wouldn’t ask you to.” More than six months later, he was out of a job. Had O’Rourke raised any concerns at the time, Steav said they would have postponed the wedding until they didn’t have to depend so much on his income.
To add insult to injury, Steav suffers from young-onset Parkinson’s disease and participates in Michael J. Fox Foundation clinical research in the hopes of finding a cure. We hope that he is able to find another job that will pay his health insurance as the compassion of the Catholic church that once employed him has seemingly gone out the window.
Thanks to a Supreme Court decision, the church, along with 29 states can legally fire anyone they want for being gay or lesbian.