February 29, 2012. Leaders of DignityUSA, the national organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Catholics (LGBT) are deeply saddened, but not surprised, to hear of yet another gifted, well-loved, gay Catholic employee being fired for being in love. Upon learning that the music teacher, Al Fischer, was to be married in New York to Charlie Robin, his partner of 20 years, the St. Louis Archdiocese pressured leaders at St. Ann's Parish and School to fire him.
Sam Sinnett, a St. Louis resident and former DignityUSA President said that, “Once again, the Church is diminished with the loss of gifts and talents Al Fischer represents. This is tragic.
“At the same time, we are greatly buoyed,” continued Sinnett. “The parents and staff at St. Ann's--pastor and principal included--have known their music teacher is gay and partnered, and have accepted Al and Charlie without reserve.
“A chasm exists between the support extended to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender church employees by many of their colleagues and parishioners and the letter-of-the-law behaviors of Church officials. We invite and pray for a change of heart at the levels of top leadership of the Church we love. They have much to learn from the Christian witness of those serving in the trenches.”
In his resignation letter to parents, Fischer wrote that the school's principal and the parish priest "are still there for me in a big way." He also encouraged families to discuss “whether justice was served” by his firing.
DignityUSA officials said they offer their support to Mr. Fischer and Mr. Robin, as well as to the members of the parish and school who want to stand by these men. “We urge Catholics to make their views known to Archbishop Carlson and other Archdiocesan officials,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, DignityUSA’s Executive Director. “We urge them to find ways to act on their views, perhaps by giving support to organizations working for LGBT equality or to the Gateway Men’s Chorus that Mr. Fischer directs. This event can be used to build community, and to demonstrate the real values our Church should represent.”
For a related piece, visit http://www.huffingtonpost.com/authorarchive/?marianne-t-duddyburke/2012/02/
DignityUSA is the nation’s largest organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Catholics and their supporters. Founded in 1969, it has members and chapters across the U.S. It is also a founding member of the Equally Blessed Coalition, which works for full equality for LGBT people in the Catholic Church and society.