Investigation expected after gay choir director fired from Catholic church files complaint

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Federal and county officials are getting involved in allegations of discrimination, after a Catholic choir director says he was fired for professing plans to marry his gay lover.

The complaint filed Thursday is expected to trigger investigations EEOC and the Cook County Commission on Human Rights and could make for a landmark lawsuit.

It started this summer with a Facebook posting. Colin Collette announced he was engaged to be married to his longtime lover following the passage of Illinois’ same sex marriage law.

The post came to the attention of church leaders, and within days, Colette was fired from his choir director job at Holy Family Parish in Inverness.

Collette was told his plans to marry his gay lover would place him in a “non-sacramental marriage” in the Catholic Church’s eyes.

Attorneys for Collette insist after Cardinal George learned of the post, he instructed parish leaders to “deal with this.”

Collette says a meeting with the Cardinal produced no results and he also appealed to Chicago’s new archbishop Blasé Cupich.

“We were hopeful the new archbishop would support take a look at this and support us on this,” said attorney Kerry Lavelle. “We didn’t even have an opportunity to have that dialogue. So we came to a dead end and we had to file.”

In an effort to get Collette’s job back, today he and his attorneys filed two complaints alleging “employment discrimination” on the part of Holy Family Parish.

If this case elevates to a lawsuit, it could be the first of its kind in Illinois.

Parishioners say this dispute has even divided the parish.

The Diocese is not commenting on this case and says attorneys have yet to read the complaint.

Attorneys believe this case could make it all the way to the Supreme Court.

Right now Collette has taken a job a flower shopand he has yet to marry his longtime partner.

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8 comments

  • John Yu

    For him to be literally making a federal case out of this is shameful. Just because he’s gay doesn’t mean he has the right to rub it in everybody’s faces. I wouldn’t go to a church knowing someone like that is gay. Live your own life in peace, but keep it out of mine. Maybe he should become a Unitarian.

  • Jean-Luc Dalmasso

    One word describes that man’s attitude : INCOHERENCE. Nobody forced him to become or remain a member of a Church that has always defined homosexual acts as intrinsically wrong.
    Should I complain to be ostracized were I to display publicly my fondness for beer while belonging to a temperance society ? Would they be wrong to tell me : “You do not belong to this community, please, go to a beer drinkers guild instead” ?
    There are plenty of Christian Churches that are ready to accommodate this man and his understanding of marriage, why would he remain connected with an organization that has always considered his way of life as immoral ?
    The discrepancy between that man and the Catholic Church boils down to a theological divergence. In our pluralistic society, any Church enjoys the right to develop and defend its theology lest it should witness the dissolution of its creed.

    • Diane

      Many if not most Catholic institutions have their employees sign a statement that says they will support/ abide by the laws of the Church.
      I don’t know if that plays a role in this case but if so than the man should walk away with his hat-in- hand. Had HE kept his private life to himself he would still be employed but when he decided he had to be a poster child for Gay Marriage he violated his contract. The church is not a public institution and has a right to set certain standards. Part of this suit has to to with the Gay agenda. Another reason is people who believe the Catholic Church should have it’s tax status revoked because they have some gripe against the Church as a whole.

      • Michael Ejercito

        Are gays really more likely to sue churches for this kind of thing, or does it simply get more press?

        There could be a lawsuit somewhere filed by a former music director who worked at an Islamic school, and who was fired because the principal found a picture of him doing a body shot, but for some reason it is not getting any press

  • Intheknow

    What is horribly left out of all of the news stories (because the general media thrives on disagreements), is a real census of the community where Colin worked. You will read articles which portray this man as being supported by a “majority” of the church congregation, but that is factually wrong. Secondly, being a member and knowing the church staff, they also conveniently leave out any knowledge that this man REQUIRED immense amounts of attention and back-patting to feed his ego. On the surface, he seems like a very nice man, and while that may be true, people should be able to see that this is just another one of his narcissistic needs being met. Colin is starved of attention, so he turns to incite these lawsuits because he feeds on the attention. Regardless of whether you agree with the church or not, the law has a very simple concept: separation of church and state. Colin can claim that it is his right to marry a man in the state of Illinois. He is 100% correct in this assertion. What he fails to make a case on, though, is the fact that the church does have the right to fire him for his lifestyle (because of the aforementioned separation), and that has NOTHING to do with his right from the government to marry a man. So, do you see? Colin knows this, but he just needs a little more limelight before he’s ready to just move on with his life. No one actually says these things, though, because the media wants to sensationalize this pro-gay story.

  • Michael Ejercito

    I fail to see a difference between this and an Islamic school firing a music director for doing body shots at a nightclub.

  • Jim

    Well of course it’s employment discrimination, and a church-affiliated school has every legal right to discriminate just as churches do. This is a firmly established principle in American law called religious liberty. Mr. Collette’s lawyer ought to know this fact, and he should have explained the law to his client. How did Mr. Collette not know about the Catholic Churches sacrament of marriage or the Catholic Church’s stand on same-sex marriage? Did he think that he was a special exception to whom the church’s 2000-year-old theology doesn’t apply? You’d think a teacher at a Catholic school would know something about the church that employs him or that he’d make an effort to find out for himself.

    • Michael Ejercito

      The case in question is Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 132 S. Ct. 694 (2012)

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