School officials knew he was gay, but marriage was a bridge too far
Christopher Persky, left, and Ken Bencomo, celebrate as they get married in San Bernadino, CA • Inland Valley Daily Bulletin Ken Bencomo was Head of the English Department at St. Lucy's Priory High School in Glendora, CA, where he'd taught for nearly 17 years. He was fired last month after a local paper published photos of him marrying his gay partner of 10 years.
School officials had known for the past 10 years that Bencomo was gay and had been introduced to his partner Christopher Persky at staff events. However, the school said that the marriage crossed a line: "The reason given was that the marriage occurred and the school's position was that it violated church teachings," said Bencomo's lawyer Patrick McGarrigle.
Persky told the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, which published the photos, that "we're just really excited about having the same rights as our friends and family." He also told of how he had not been allowed to visit Bencomo after surgery a few years earlier because he wasn't "family."
An online petition asking the school to "Give Ken Bencomo his job back" has over 16,000 signatures.
Other Catholic schools who've recently fired teachers for their sexuality or for being pregnant out of wedlock claimed that the teachers breached the terms of their contract. However the school doesn't seem to be making that claim in Bencomo's case.