From The New York Times: Matthew LaBanca is bringing attention to a legal loophole that allows religious institutions to exclude people in same-sex civil marriages from jobs by deeming them ministers.
Matthew LaBanca said he held two titles while working for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn: music teacher and parish music director.[A]fter Mr. LaBanca married his boyfriend in August, he learned that a group of church leaders were debating his future and were pondering whether he also had another job within the Catholic church — that of “minister” — though he has no formal religious training and his jobs did not involve religious education or preaching.
On Oct. 13, the Diocese of Brooklyn, which encompasses the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, fired Mr. LaBanca because the church does not condone same-sex marriage.
It is illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation under federal, state and New York City laws, but religious institutions are allowed to favor members of their faith in employment settings like schools and houses of worship.
That loophole does not permit them to discriminate on the basis of traits like sex or sexual orientation unless the job in question is a ministerial position. That provides the legal basis by which the Catholic Church can refuse to employ women as priests, but in recent years it has increasingly been used to fire people in same-sex civil marriages from jobs that have not traditionally been seen as part of the clergy.
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