CHARLOTTE (CBS Charlotte) — A Catholic church in Charlotte has fired its music director because he married another man.
Steav Bates-Congdon, who had been working for St. Gabriel Catholic Church since 2004, told WSOC-TV he was “blindsided a few weeks ago” after receiving a termination letter from Father O’Rourke saying Bates-Congdon’s marriage to another man last October violated the diocese’s employee ethics policy.
“Employees of St. Gabriel … are expected to live with the moral tradition of the church,” the letter read, according to the Charlotte Observer. “Your civil marriage stands in direct opposition to the teaching of the Catholic Church, therefore ending your employment with us, effective today.”
Bates-Congdon said the church knew he was openly gay and that he told Father O’Rourke last June that he was going to marry his partner Bill of 15 years in New York.
“This was never about activism or forcing the church to make a stand – or even Bill and me making a stand,” he told the Observer. “It was for the sheer joy of celebrating the fact that we could get married that we decided we would.”
David Hains, communications director for the Diocese of Charlotte, told CBS Charlotte that Bates-Congdon wasn’t fired for being gay.
“The Catholic church wouldn’t fire somebody because they are gay,” Hains told CBS Charlotte. “What happened was his marriage in New York is a direct affront to Catholic teaching. It’s the idea against Catholic teaching for his firing.”
Hains added that he doesn’t believe there will be legal action due to a recent Supreme Court ruling that bars employment-discrimination lawsuits against churches.
Bates-Congdon, who is currently battling Parkinson’s Disease, will continue to receive his salary and health insurance through the end of June.