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The Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, has told a retired teacher he cannot work at one of its schools after he announced plans to “marry” another man.

Lonnie Billard, 68, retired in 2012 after working for 11 years at Charlotte Catholic High School and continued to work as a long-term substitute. He was scheduled to begin a new assignment at the school this month. Billard announced on his Facebook page he was planning to “marry” his male partner in the summer of 2015.

Diocesan spokesman David Hains confirmed for LifeSiteNews the school notified Billard that he could not teach at Charlotte Catholic High School because of his plans to disobey Church morals.

“People who work for the Diocese of Charlotte agree that they will not oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church,” Hains said in a statement January 9. “We cannot and will not employ a substitute teacher who opposes Church teaching.”

He verified diocesan policy in this regard for LifeSiteNews.

“All employees of the diocese agree upon their employment to follow the diocese's ethics policy and a personnel policy that requires them to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church,” the policy states.

Substitute teachers for the diocese are categorized as temporary employees. They do not have benefits but they are obliged to follow the same policies as other employees.

Normally the diocese does not comment on issues involving personnel, however diocesan leadership decided to comment in this instance after local media reported on Billard's dismissal.

Billard told WTSP-10 News that most people at the school were aware of his relationship and that his partner had often come to school events.

“The fact that I am in a long term, committed relationship with a wonderful man is apparently abhorrent but if I were in the closet, that would be okay,” said Billard. “That's my understanding of the church's position.”

This is not the first time an employee of the Charlotte diocese has been dismissed for a similar violation of Church morals.

In 2012, a parish music director in the diocese was let go by the pastor for contracting a homosexual “marriage,” which the diocese referred to at the time as “a public act that is in disobedience to Church teaching and which violates the diocese's employee ethics policy.”

The Charlotte diocese reaffirmed Church teaching in its statement on the release of Billard.

“The Church teaches that marriage can only be the union between one man and one woman, as established in natural law and set forth as a sacrament by Christ and His Church,” it said. “Catholic teaching emphasizes that all people, including those with a homosexual orientation, are made in the image of God and therefore deserving of dignity and respect, but that matrimony is designed by God as the basis for family life and the conceiving and nurturing of children.”

The homosexual activist group Human Rights Campaign (HRC) condemned Billard’s discharge.

“Firings like this send a message to LGBT people, and LGBT Catholics in particular, that there is no place in the church for us,” said Lisbeth Meléndez Rivera, HRC’s Director of Latino/a and Catholic Initiatives. “And think of what LGBT students at his school must hear when something like this happens. The Diocese is sending these children and their student allies a message that they are less-than, that they are second-class Catholics and citizens.”

HRC relied on a now frequently used strategy of citing Pope Francis and his often-misused quote on homosexuality, “who am I to judge?”

Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski reminded employees in a letter last week that breaking their employment agreement to uphold Church teaching could result in them losing their job.

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