A day after Vice Principal Mark Zmuda was forced out of Eastside Catholic High School for being gay and married, dozens of supporters on Friday demanded that the Catholic Church allow him to keep his job.
Chanting "love always wins" and "God is love, stop the hate," nearly 100 people gathered at the archdiocesan offices in downtown Seattle to protest Thursday's forced resignation. Zmuda, 38, married his now-husband this past summer -- in violation of the contract he signed with the Sammamish-area high school to follow the teachings of the church, which is against gay marriage.
Kristin Mikolajewski, a senior at Eastside Catholic, told KIRO 7 Reporter Amy Clancy, "Just because you are Catholic doesn't mean you have to agree with everything the church teaches. As Catholics, we have the right to fight and to question the church."
Kari Brown, who has a daughter at Eastside Catholic, said, "It's hard to change the Catholic Church; it's like turning the Titanic. But I hope that the younger generation getting involved like this will make change."
Students from other Catholic high schools also protested, including Thomas Lange, of Seattle Preparatory School, a Jesuit Catholic high school in Seattle. "You can't preach love and acceptance and tolerance and then go and tell someone they can't work at an institution of learning for any other reason other than their sexual preference," Lange said.
"I believe that everyone has a right to their own opinion," said Stephanie Frey, of Holy Names Academy, also in Seattle, "but I think it's alright to ask the church for a tolerance of gay marriage."
Also asking the archdiocese for tolerance at Friday's protest was Seattle mayor-elect Ed Murray, who is openly gay, married and Catholic. "I want to thank the young people here today," he told the crowd. "You are changing this country, you are changing this world. Thanks for standing up."
Chris King and Christopher Peguero, both gay men from Seattle, were thankful the students stood up for gay marriage, too. "I do see a change in the church. I know it's a baby step, but I hope that eventually it will change," Pugero, who's married, said. He found the protest inspiring and hopeful.
So did Chris King, who called the students impressive. "It's great to stand back and let them take the reins, and I'm excited that that generation is going to be the leaders, because they're going to make some changes. It's just a matter of time."
Mark Zmuda was also the swim coach for Eastside Catholic. The school had a swim meet Friday at Rainier Beach. Students made signs to support Zmuda. Swimmers dedicated the meet to him.
Some thought Zmuda might show up, he didn’t make an appearance.
KIRO 7 called and emailed Greg Magnoni, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Seattle, for comment about Zmuda's resignation and the protest on Friday. Magnoni did not respond.