Pa. Catholic college fires gay professor

Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — A Catholic college in Philadelphia says it has fired a part-time professor after learning from a post on his blog that he has been in a same-sex relationship for a decade and a half, which officials called contrary to church teaching.

Chestnut Hill College, a private Catholic school, said the Rev. James St. George was terminated after he made “public statements of his involvement in a gay relationship with another man for the past 15 years.”

St. George. 45, of Lansdale, was hired by the private Catholic school in 2009 to teach Bible studies and other subjects. He was to teach courses in theology and justice as well as world religions beginning Tuesday, March 1.

St. George confirmed to The Philadelphia Inquirer on Saturday that he is gay and recently celebrated the 15th anniversary of his relationship with his partner. He said he was shocked by the termination, which he learned about Feb. 18.

College officials appeared surprised that St. George belonged to a branch of Catholicism not associated with the Vatican that has different views on gay issues. St. George leads St. Miriam Church in Blue Bell, which is affiliated with the Old Catholic Apostolic Church of America, which vows no discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and performs commitment ceremonies for gays and lesbians.

Carol Jean Vale, president of Chestnut Hill College, said in a statement Friday night to several news organizations, including the Philadelphia Daily News, that when St. George joined the faculty “he presented himself as Father St. George and openly wore a traditional Catholic priest’s collar.”

Vale said that while St. George “appears to be an ordained pastor … his church allows priests the option to engage in same-sex partnerships.”

St. George denied that he had withheld anything from the college.

“What am I supposed to do?” he asked. “Say, ‘Before we go any further, I’m gay?’ Who says that?”

The college said officials only learned about the matter “after St. George chose to make his private life public information on his blog.”

“While we welcome diversity, it is expected that all members of our college community, regardless of their personal beliefs, respect and uphold our Roman Catholic mission, character and values both in the classroom and in public statements that identify them with our school,” Vale’s statement said. “For this reason, we chose not to offer an additional teaching contract to St. George.”

Jessica Murray, 23, who was one of St. George’s students, told the Inquirer that she was appalled by the firing.

“All you have to do is Google him, you can see that he’s openly gay,” she said. “They can’t claim they didn’t know.”

—  John Wright

Pa. Senate committee to vote on marriage ban

This prick is from the same area of Pennsylvania as my parents.
This prick, Sen. John Eichelberger, represents the area of the state  where my dad was born and raised.

In my home state of Pennsylvania, a state Senate committee is expected to vote tomorrow on a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, according to a brief editorial in The Philadelphia Daily News. I’ve been uable to find any other coverage of tomorrow’s vote, including in the state’s largest LGBT publication, The Philadelphia Gay News. Similar proposals have been defeated twice before in Pennsylvania, in 2006 and 2008. This year the amendment reportedly was introduced by Republican Sen. John Eichelberger. Pennsylvania is one of 20 states that don’t have constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage. But same-sex marriage is already prohibited by statute in the Keystone State. From the Daily News:

Uneeded [sic] reform

USUALLY, we’re delighted when state lawmakers talk about reforming the constitution. State government desperately needs to modernize, but tomorrow a Senate panel will consider taking a step backward. The Judiciary Committee is set to vote on Senate Bill 707, which would ban gay marriage in Pennsylvania.During these tough times, we can think of a few better uses of the Legislature’s time. How about a constitutional amendment to require lawmakers to pass a budget on time? Or to shrink the size and cost of the Legislature? How about updating the state’s antiquated tax code or campaign finance reform? All of these would be better than a constitutional amendment about gay marriage.

Gay marriage isn’t even legal in Pennsylvania. Nor are civil unions or any other kind acknowledgment of same-sex couples. There is no need for a constitutional amendment to ban something that isn’t happening anyway.

If supporters of traditional marriage are worried about the erosion of moral values, it would be more effective to ban divorce. Nearly 50 percent of marriages end in divorce.

We’re pretty sure gay people getting married isn’t the reason.

UPDATE: Write a note to the Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee by going here.

—  John Wright