Gay Catholic band director in Ohio forced to resign

SANDUSKY, Ohio – A band director at a Catholic school in Sandusky, Ohio has been forced to resign, after announcing he’s engaged to a man.

The Catholic diocese says Brian Panetta violated a clause in his contract, and his plans to marry a man violate church teachings. Panetta says he knew about the clause and he expected there could be problems, but he didn’t think he’d lose his job.

“I expected there might be some issues we had to work through at that initial point in time,” Panetta said. “I didn't necessarily agree that an engagement was in violation of anyone. It wasn't until I sat down with the dioceses five days later that they explained it’s a public statement that you support something that we don't and that i couldn't wrap my head around. I didn't agree with it but I understand it."

The church released a statement, in part reading:

“In light of the church’s clear teaching on sacred marriage and the fact that Mr. Panetta himself has publicly indicated his marriage plans are contrary to church teachings, and are the issue at the heart of this matter. The leadership of Sandusky Central Catholic School properly determined that his employment could not continue.”

In the meantime, Panetta hasn’t landed a new job yet. He says he misses teaching and he’s learned a lot from his students. He’s working on finishing the last semester of his Master’s Degree, and is looking at job opportunities in Cleveland, Chicago or Charlotte.

His resignation comes after a vice principal at Eastside Catholic High School says he lost his job because he married a man. On Wednesday, supporters of Mark Zmuda delivered a petition with more than 20,000 signatures, asking the church to change its ways.