A gay Ohio man believes he lost his job for supporting friends’ same-sex marriages on social media.
Until last week, Keith Kozak worked was a campus minister at Cleveland State University, where he provided Catholic outreach to students, local ABC affiliate News 5 Cleveland reported Friday. However, he said he was fired by the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland after liking a friend’s Facebook post celebrating his five-year anniversary to his husband.
Kozak had also posted a congratulatory message that showed him attending a different friend’s same-sex wedding last year. Kozak claims that image might have also contributed to his employer terminating him.
“I never posted anything that, in my opinion, would’ve been controversial in any way,” Kozak, a 39-year-old practicing Catholic, told News 5 Cleveland.
At the time of his termination last month, Kozak was in the process of applying for a promotion, he said. When his supervisor suggested a meeting, he believed it was part of that interview process.
Instead, he said, school officials “sat me down, and they said, ‘We had seen some things on Facebook and Twitter ... we’d like to talk to you about that.’” Though Kozak noted that he did not disclose his sexuality during the meeting, he received a termination letter a day later.
HuffPost has reached out to the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland for comment on Kozak’s claims. The diocese is “confident” that the termination was “appropriate,” a spokesperson told News 5 Cleveland in a statement.
“The relationship between an organized church and its ministers is its lifeblood,” the spokesperson said.
News of Kozak’s firing follows a pair of similar incidents. In August, administrators at Roncalli High School, a Catholic school in Indianapolis, reportedly placed guidance counselor Shelly Fitzgerald on administrative leave after learning she was in a same-sex marriage. (Fitzgerald told Ellen DeGeneres on Sept. 17 that her job remains “in limbo” but that she and school officials “want to work together and see what happens.”)
Meanwhile, Jocelyn Morffi, reportedly one of the most popular educators at Miami’s Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic School, was terminated from her job of nearly seven years just a day after marrying her wife, Natasha Hass.
“[It] really feels discouraging that this is still happening,” Kozak told News 5 Cleveland.
“It’s a wake-up call for me,” he said. “I didn’t really realize the Catholic Church would act like this.”