Catholic schools in Columbus, Ohoio are facing controversy again after a high school removed the invited commencement speaker because he openly supporting marriage equality.
John O’Grady, an Ohio politician and Commissioner of Franklin County, was asked by Bishop Ready High School to skip graduation ceremonies last weekend after initially inviting him to speak. Administrators at his alma mater referenced a decision by Bishop Frederick Campbell against O’Grady due to his public support of marriage equality.
The Columbus Dispatch broke the news of O’Grady’s absence after speaking with Bob Bair, a Bishop Ready alum, who heard rumors that O’Grady would miss the ceremony. The paper reports:
“One of [Bair’s] daughters, who will be a senior this fall, attended the commencement and told him that the program still listed O’Grady as the speaker. Students were told by [Principal Celene] Seamen that something had come up and the commissioner would not be able to speak.”
The principal ended up giving an address, leaving Bair and others with questions about why O’Grady could not attend:
“Bair said O’Grady has been a proactive member of the alumni community at Ready, contributing to school fundraisers and sponsoring sports teams even though his own children attend other schools.
“He said the commissioner gave a well-received speech to National Honor Society inductees in the school’s chapel last fall.”
ThinkProgress in reporting on this story notes the troubling reality that if The Columbus Dispatch had not reported the news about O’Grady’s absence
“…the school would have left the crowd believing O’Grady had blown off the speech instead of taking responsibility for disinviting him. If the diocese feels it needs to hide the fact that it refuses to associate with people just because they support marriage equality, it reveals an understanding that such choices are wrong.”
For his part, John O’Grady is not upset with administrators at Bishop Ready High School and said he still appreciates the original invitation. The decision is attributed to Bishop Campbell, who has been involved in another LGBT case involving Columbus Catholic schools. Earlier this spring the bishop supported another Catholic high school which fired lesbian educator Carla Hale after she listed her partner’s name in her mother’s obituary.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry