A church in Charlotte, North Carolina
has fired its openly gay music director after he married his longtime
partner, the Charlotte
After a 23-year relationship, Steav and
Bill Bates-Congdon married last October in New York, one of seven
states where gay and lesbian couples can legally wed.
Steav, 61, joined the staff at St.
Gabriel Catholic Church in 2004. He was open about his sexual
orientation from the start.
After an extended leave of absence,
which included a honeymoon trip to Mexico followed by a hospital
stay, Steav returned to St. Gabriel on January 19.
Upon his return, Rev. Frank O'Rourke
fired Steav in a note, which read: “Employees of St. Gabriel …
are expected to live within the moral traditional of the Church …
Your civil marriage stands in direct opposition to the teaching of
the Catholic Church, therefore ending your employment with us,
Steav claims that when he informed
O'Rourke of his plans in June, the pastor congratulated him but added
that he could not give him his blessing.
Several parishioners said Steav had
significantly improved the church's music program and were saddened
by the loss.
North Carolina voters in May will
decide on a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage in
the state. Bishop Peter Jugis, who heads the Diocese of Charlotte,
has endorsed the amendment.