Catholic university stands by professor after marriage to same-sex partner

Fordham University, the Jesuit University of New York, is standing by and supporting a professor after his marriage to his partner.

Professor J. Patrick Hornbeck, a Chair and Associate Professor of Theology at Fordham, married his partner Patrick Bergquist at St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in Manhattan on June 28th, 2015, just days after the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality nation wide.

The Catholic Church officially opposes marriage for same-sex couples, although the majority of American Catholics, around sixty percent, support marriage equality. The church has fought efforts to bring marraige equality through legislation or public referendum. It has also punished many who support marriage equality. Just last week, Margie Winters, a teacher and administrator at the Catholic Waldron Mercy Academy in Philadelphia, was fired after parents found out that Winters was married to a same-sex partner. Winters' dismissal continues in the recent trend of gay and lesbian teachers being fired from Catholic schools and institutions because of their marriages.

In contrast, the official response from Fordham University is positive and supportive toward Professor Hornbeck. In a statement, Senior Director of Communications, Bob Howe, said:

“While Catholic teachings do not support same-sex marriage, we wish Professor Hornbeck and his spouse a rich life filled with many blessings on the occasion of their wedding in the Episcopal Church. Professor Hornbeck is a member of the Fordham community, and like all University employees, students and alumni, is entitled to human dignity without regard to race, creed, gender, and sexual orientation. Finally, same-sex unions are now the law of the land, and Professor Hornbeck has the same constitutional right to marriage as all Americans.”

Fordham's decision to not terminate Hornbeck's employment after his marriage is a significant departure from what we've seen from other Catholic institutions. It is safe to assume that the New York Diocese will likely put pressure on Fordham to remove him from his office.  

As a Fordham student, I am proud of the administration's decision to stand by a member of the Fordham community, despite the Catholic Church's stance on marriage for same-sex couples.