Marquis LaFortune, newlywed and former Catholic high school teacher, was fired from her position at Central Catholic High School in San Antonio, Texas. The reason? Well, on November 22, LaFortune married Benjamin Stakes—a divorcé. The status of LaFortune’s husband-to-be was revealed in a school newspaper featuring the couple’s upcoming nuptials.
According to Catholic doctrine, marriage must be between an unmarried man and unmarried woman. Citing this doctrine, Deacon Patrick Cunningham of Central Catholic High suggested she either resign or seek an annulment. He stated in a letter to LaFortune:
There is a high likelihood of scandal here when there is a public repudiation (even if it is unintentional) of the Church’s understanding of the marital covenant. This is not something that Central Catholic High School can support.
LaFortune opted for neither and she is jobless today. She stated:
I would have resigned if I’d felt like I’d done something wrong. I couldn’t get out of bed. It’s just been this cloud. It was supposed to be the best week of my life, and I had to pull myself together for the ceremony.
Despite the Church hierarchy’s draconian doctrine, Catholics divorce at the same rate as the rest of the country. According to Church doctrine, if these Catholic divorcees do not get an annulment, they cannot remarry because then they would basically be polygamists—i.e. sacramentally bound to more than one person.
LaFortune is rightfully seeking reparations from her former employer. However, she is choosing not to argue the Church’s definition of marriage; rather, she is referencing the fact that teachers at Central Catholic High School are not required to practice Catholicism, much less follow its doctrine. Indeed, institutions are permitted to employ discrimination based on religion; however, in this case, Central Catholic was not discriminating equally.
Ironically, the couple received bittersweet news from Stakes’ ex-wife just days before their honeymoon. It turns out that their marriage had been annulled after all.