(DailyMail) A gay teacher who was fired after writing on Facebook about his upcoming wedding has sued the Catholic school who sacked him.
Lonnie Billard, 69, said in a filing Wednesday that Charlotte Catholic High School violated federal law by firing him from his substitute teaching position in 2014, after he announced he was due to marry his longtime partner Richard Donham.
The filing, which was filed Wednesday, doesn’t invoke state law but comes amid continued litigation over a North Carolina law limiting protections for LGBT people.
Billard, who married Donham in May 2015, said their relationship was well known around the school and believes people ‘should be able to fall in love’ without risking their jobs. But a diocese spokesman said publicly that Billard opposed the Roman Catholic church’s teachings when he posted about their relationship on Facebook, according to the filing.
Billard taught English and drama full time at the school for more than a decade, earning its Teacher of the Year award in 2012. He then transitioned to a role as a regular substitute teacher, typically working more than a dozen weeks per year, the lawsuit states.
He posted about his upcoming wedding in October 2014, and was informed by an assistant principal several weeks later that he no longer had a job with the school.
Not long after that, local diocese spokesman David Hains publicly stated that Billard was let go for ‘going on Facebook, entering into a same-sex relationship, and saying it in a very public way that he does not agree with the teachings of the Catholic Church,’ according to the lawsuit.
Hains said Wednesday that officials from the diocese hadn’t seen the lawsuit and typically don’t comment on pending litigation.