A gay teacher is suing Charlotte
Catholic High School and the dioceses of Charlotte, claiming that he
was fired because he married.
Lonnie Billard became a full-time
faculty member at the school in 2001. That same year, he became
involved with Rich Donham. In 2012, Billard was named the school's
Teacher of the Year. He retired at the end of the school year, but
stayed on as a regular substitute teacher.
In 2014, he posted his wedding
announcement on Facebook.
“Yes, I'm finally going to make an
honest (at least legal) man out of Rich,” he wrote. “I thank all
the courageous people who had more guts than I who refused to back
down and accept anything but 'equal.'”
“People at school congratulated us
and all of that, and then all of the sudden, I'm not employed
anymore,” he told Charlotte's Channel
Billard is represented by the American
Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
“Lonnie was the 2012 Teacher of the
Year, a remarkable teacher, who was fired because he's gay,” ACLU
lawyer Chris Brook told the outlet. Brook claims that Billard's job
was secular and therefore immune from Roman Catholic doctrine, which
is opposed to same-sex marriage.
According to the complaint, Billard is
asking for back pay and benefits, his job back and punitive damages.
He also wants a court order blocking school officials from firing
other employees for the same reason, The
Charlotte Observer reported.