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Fired gay church music director files human rights complaint

Before last summer, Dolores Siok could walk into Holy Family Catholic Church in suburban Inverness and count on a heartfelt welcome from everyone she met in the pews.

Now, some parishioners turn away from her.

“Now, you walk in and they kind of turn their heads because they know you’re in the other camp,” says Siok, a parishioner for 25 years.

A speedy reconciliation among parishioners seems unlikely, after Colin Collette — the man at the center of the controversy — filed a complaint Thursday with the Chicago division of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Cook County Commission on Human Rights.

Collette claims he unfairly lost his job as music and worship director last summer because he is gay and after he announced on Facebook that he plans to marry his longtime male partner.

Collette, speaking to reporters in Rolling Meadows, said he is taking the legal action because he wants to return to the job he loves.

Collette says Holy Family Pastor Terry Keehan asked for his resignation in July. He said he left without resigning but was later fired.

“My goal is not just to continue a career in the community that I love,” Collette said, reading a statement. “Directing both worship and the music ministry, it is truly my vocation. It is who I am, and it saddens me to have this integral part of my life taken away because I have chosen to enter into a marriage, as is my right under Illinois law.”

Collette’s lawyer, Kerry Lavelle, said his client had no choice but to move forward with legal action after an “open and heartfelt” discussion led nowhere with then archbishop, Cardinal Francis George.

“We firmly believe Mr. Collette is being discriminated against based on his sexual orientation and his desire to enter into a legal same-sex marriage,” Lavelle said.

Lavelle said he knows of no specific case law that might be helpful in his client’s case because Illinois’ same-sex marriage law is so new.

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Chicago said diocese officials were unable to comment because they haven’t seen Collette’s complaints.

Siok, firmly in the Collette camp, says she knows how Jesus Christ would decide the case.“Everyone should be welcome,” she said. “Jesus didn’t sort us out. Jesus didn’t say, ‘You’re gay, you’re not. You’re black, you’re white, you’re not. If Jesus were heading this up, he would not be happy.”

Contributing: AP