Editorial: The complexities of same-sex marriage


Megaphone Staff

The following editorial is the opinion of the student newspaper staff and not necessarily that of the entire student body nor of the school’s faculty, staff and administration.

This school is a place where people come to learn, but it’s also a place that people love to call home. It is a home where people seek their family, their friends and their safety; a home built on Holy Cross core values; and a home dedicated to ensuring students and staff members are always welcomed and accepted regardless of their differences.

With the recent separation of a beloved teacher, it seems our home has distanced itself from the values it was supposed to uphold.

For a quick recap of the events of what has been a rather roller coaster ride of a summer, our school was forced — and it is vital that you notice the word forced — to fire a teacher because of his marriage to another man. Mr. Joshua Payne-Elliott, a German teacher, National Honor Society faculty co-moderator and bowling coach, was not fired for any other reason than how he chose to lead his private life.

You may be quick to point a finger at our administration, furious at the board’s decision to dismiss this teacher, and that reaction is quite understandable, but you should instead be pointing a finger at the institution who has placed our school and other schools like us in this situation, the Catholic Church.

The Church believes that any marriage between two people of the same gender is a sin against God and a violation of one of the sacraments.

While there may be varying opinions on this issue, it’s important to remember that the teacher’s sexuality does have an impact on our education, but if anything, Elliott provided a unique perspective.

Payne-Elliott offered a positive personality, a love for teaching and a lesson on diversity, yet the Church decided to terminate his teaching career here, resulting in serious backlash from much of the community, including several alumni, which shined a negative light on both the Church and our school.

The heart of Christianity is the belief that we are made in the image and likeness of God, and we should share our gifts and talents that God has given us with the world. We are called to be kind to one another, be generous with one another and be caring with one another.

We are asked to live peacefully and not be tempted by hatred, yet some seem to be afraid of those who are unlike them. The Church could not fathom a reality where a school employed a gay teacher because, in their eyes, this was detrimental to their perception of righteous behavior.

They apparently wanted to set the example that students should be threatened by those who are different than us or those who don’t meet the requirements the Catholic Church mandates.

They abused their power, forcing Cathedral to choose between essential funding and a Catholic identity or sending away a teacher because of his marital status. They condemned a man for who he was and through this forced removal, they are telling students and Catholics to conform to a single identity, an identity not representative of the human race, a false reality.

Our unique qualities and differences are what fuel society and make this world so special. Our different orientations, perspectives and understandings all come together to create a more reflective and accepting world where we can all feel safe even in our differences. When we become afraid of others, we miss out on the opportunity to understand one another and build bridges rather than walls.

The Megaphone hopes the entire Catholic Church asks themselves if this firing is something Jesus would agree with.

The Church’s decision and Cathedral’s decision are obviously saddening and frustrating in a time when we should be continuing to progress in the right direction.

As we approach 2020, the LGBTQ community and advocacy groups have grown significantly throughout the country and throughout the world, but with setbacks like these, the message of hate only further penetrates into the minds of those who are self-conscious about their sexuality.

It is time we end these messages of animosity and move toward acceptance. No individual should be able to tell us who and who shouldn’t work at Cathedral because of a single sin. If we begin judging applications on that basis, we would have no teachers at all.

The world is full of people who sin, people who make mistakes. Every teacher has committed a sin, every student has committed a sin, even Church leaders have committed a sin or two in their day. We need to stop using this age-old teaching as an excuse to bully those who have a different sexuality orientation. It is time we stop pretending that our differences are flaws.

We are beautiful because we are unique.

Maybe, just maybe, if we break down these requirements to be the most perfect human as the Church mandates, we can see the beauty in other perspectives and enjoy the happiness that arises from everyone, regardless of their make-up, coming together as one.

Recognizing all the good the Church does, we hope they can one day gain a new sense of righteousness and place this unwarranted unacceptance for people’s differences behind them.

On a final note, Cathedral is run by the administration, but the students are the heart of the school. We chose to go here, the alumni chose to attend here and our parents sent us here because we believed in the administration and in the education the school would provide us.

Through our efforts we can mobilize action and ensure the Church understands that Payne-Elliott deserved to stay. We must continue to speak out.

This is an issue that affects us all, no matter your gender, identity, race, etc., and without our voices and words, there will be no change.

We have to be the generation to alter the status quo. We have to be the generation that has pride.

Additional information from the editors: The Megaphone realizes this is an agonizing and difficult discussion, as we are a Catholic institution. We wished to be as respectful as possible, but in light of what happened over the summer, it was our belief that we needed to acknowledge the reality of what happened and what it means for not just Cathedral, but all people across America.

This editorial is not intended to offend but rather inform and open the door for reflection. We want the Catholic Church to understand why some of its principles have consequences and the message they are sending is not one, as far as we believe, of love.

We are hopeful this editorial elicits conversation and promotes, sooner rather later, change.

The Megaphone has also contacted the Archbishop with a request for an interview, and we await his response for some of his insight into the matter.