Students picketed outside a Glendora Catholic high school to protest the firing of a popular teacher who was seen in a newspaper story about marrying his longtime partner. Toni Guinyard reports for the NBC4 News at Noon on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013.
Chanting "Bring back B! Bring back B!" students at the Catholic high school that recently ousted a gay teacher rallied outside the school urging administrators to reinstate Ken Bencomo.
As part of the rally, students at St. Lucy's Priory High School in Glendora delivered more than 50,000 petition signatures from a Change.org petition.
"He has been my mentor, my confidant for all the time I've been at this school," said Alina Mota, a senior at St. Lucy's. "I'm so sad that he was let go based on him getting married to someone that he loves."
Bencomo, 45, and his partner were among the first same-sex couples to marry in San Bernardino County last month after the U.S. Supreme Court chose not to uphold Proposition 8, California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage
Bencomo married his longtime partner on July 1 and his wedding was featured in a local newspaper. Eleven days later, he was fired from the all-girls school. He held the job for 17 years.
Supporters rallied, starting a Facebook page and a petition.
"For him to get fired for living with another person is not a Catholic view," said Clare O'Mahony, a sophomore. "I think that love is love and everybody should be accepting."
But not everybody agreed.
"It's not about the teacher's private sexual orientation," said Doug Boyd, a Glendora resident. "It's about the fact that he was deliberately in violation of his contract, chose to get married to wide publicity and spread it all over the school."
Glendora resident Luz Gomez echoed the sentiment.
"He should have known the rules," Gomez said. "He knew the rules and he broke the rules."
School officials said they fired him because he violated a morals clause in his contract by bringing attention to his sexuality.
News of Bencomo’s firing came days after Pope Francis, who leads the world's estimated 1.2 billion Catholics, said “If someone is gay, who searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?"
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