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Man Claims Archdiocese Fired Him Over Same-Sex Marriage

By Kate Shepherd in News on Nov 13, 2015 6:23PM

A former employee of a suburban Catholic church has filed a complaint against the Chicago Archdiocese, alleging he was fired by the church last year after he married his male partner.

Sandor Demkovich filed a complaint on Sept. 30 with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Illinois Department of Human Rights against the archdiocese, claiming that he was fired from his job as the music director at St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Calumet City for marrying his husband, according to the Tribune.

In his complaint, Demkovich says that the church's pastor said his marriage was against the Catholic teachings and told a choir member that he thought Demkovich and his husband "were going to keep this quiet and not make it public." Demkovich claims that the pastor was supportive of the relationship before the wedding. He also alleges that he was harassed about his weight and diabetic condition.

It's not the first time the a former employee has filed a complaint against the Chicago Archdiocese alleging that they were fired because of a same-sex relationship. Colin Collette, a music director at Holy Family Catholic Community in Inverness, says he was let go after announcing his engagement to his male partner on Facebook.

Collette, who worked at the church for 17 years, says that church leaders knew he was gay long before the engagement but was told at the time that the relationship violated the church's tenets. He filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC following his termination in July 2014.

The church community showed a lot of support for Collette following his firing. A church cantor resigned in protest and Cardinal Francis George met with him. But the archdiocese has decided to not participate in mediation over his discrimination claim.

"We once again see a pattern of acceptance and inclusion by the parish pastor, and the parish congregation in general, of an openly gay qualified employee suddenly reversed as soon as he enters into a legal marriage," Kerry Lavelle, the attorney for both men, said in a statement.

The Archdiocese declined to comment on the complaints in a prepared statement:

"Mr. Colin Collette and Mr. Sandor Demkovich have filed complaints with public agencies who are still investigating the matters. The Archdiocese of Chicago has responded to the agencies and these matters remain pending. We do not comment on the progress of such matters."

The Catholic Church remains against all-sex relationships. The Archdiocese of Chicago recently removed the rector of the Shrine of our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines for a relationship with an adult man.