GLENDORA (CBSLA.com) — A gay Catholic school teacher who was fired after marrying his long-time partner can move forward with his lawsuit against the school, a Los Angeles judge ruled Wednesday.
Kenneth Bencomo said he was terminated from his teaching job at St. Lucy’s Priory High School in Glendora on July 12, 2013, less than two weeks after he married his partner Christopher Persky in San Bernardino. The ceremony took place just days after the Supreme Court overturned Prop 8 and pictures of the couple’s wedding were featured in a local newspaper article.
Bencomo’s lawyer Jason Marsili said he filed the case March 12, alleging wrongful termination in violation of public policy, violation of the state labor code and breach of contract.
Attorneys for the all-girls Catholic school said the allegations brought by Bencomo were barred by the constitutional separation of church and state. Superior Court Judge Kevin Brazile rejected those arguments and gave defense attorneys 30 days to file an answer to the lawsuit.
Bencomo, 45, had been a teacher at St. Lucy’s since 1998, was head of the English department and coached the dance squad.
“At that time, and at all times thereafter, Bencomo’s sexual orientation was common knowledge among many of the students, faculty members and the administration of St. Lucy’s,” the suit states.
Bencomo was raised Catholic and graduated from Damien High School, an all-male school Catholic school in La Verne.
A protest was held shortly after his termination and an online petition garnered more than 48,000 signatures in support of his reinstatement.
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