News Briefing

News Briefing

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Local AIDS family center closes

St. Mary’s Family Respite Center, an organization that provided services to Philadelphia-area families affected by HIV/AIDS, closed down March 31. The agency, at 3115 Spring Garden St., was forced to shut down after losing a significant amount of government funding.

Sandra Thompson, St. Mary’s executive director, said the organization lost its Title I Ryan White funding, federal money given to HIV/AIDS service organizations, in mid-2007 and was not able to locate other funding sources to make up for the more-than 25-percent loss in its budget.

St. Mary’s provided free childcare, educational support and recreation for children of families affected by HIV/AIDS, services that Thompson noted are not available elsewhere in the Philadelphia area.

“We had the only service like this in the city. There is no alternative for care for these children,” she said. “Some may be old enough for the Head Start program or some parents may be able to find subsidized childcare, but without those, these children are left with no services.”

The organization worked with more than 450 families in its nearly 15 years in operation.

Airline launches LGBT Philly site

Southwest Airlines launched a new Web site last week that seeks to attract LGBT visitors to Philadelphia.

This marks the first time Southwest has launched a companion LGBT travel site to promote a specific city.

The site,, allows users to book a stay at nearly a dozen gay-friendly hotels in the city as well as purchase airline tickets.

Jeff Guaracino, vice president of communications for the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, said the site will be supported by a strategic ad campaign focused on such destinations as Chicago, Denver, Fort Lauderdale and Columbus, OH.

Obama appoints gay man to faith committee

President Barack Obama announced nine new members of a White House advisory council April 6, one of whom is an openly gay employee of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT organization.

Harry Knox, director of the HRC’s religion and faith program, is one of the 25 members of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, which is charged with formulating strategies for economic recovery, reducing the number of abortions, encouraging responsible fatherhood and improving interfaith relations, as well as funding faith initiatives.

“I hope this council will draw upon the richness of our unique perspectives to advise the president on policies that will improve the lives of all the people we have been called to serve,” Knox said in a statement this week. “The LGBT community is eager to help the administration achieve its goals and, of course, we will support the president in living up to his promise that government has no place in funding bigotry against any group of people.”

The committee also includes Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and a strong proponent for LGBT rights.

Last week, Obama extended an invitation to former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy to join the committee but Dungy declined, citing scheduling conflicts. LGBT-rights groups spoke out against the invitation, as Dungy was a strong supporter of a same-sex marriage ban in Indiana.

PGTC night at Tavern

The Philadelphia Gay Tourism Caucus will stage its Annual Event from 6-8 p.m. April 16 at Tavern on Camac, 243 S. Camac St.

Tom Roth, a travel expert from LGBT marketing association Community Marketing, will provide the keynote address, which will focus on how LGBT travel trends have the ability to impact area businesses.

The event also will feature complimentary food and drink specials and a surprise announcement.

To RSVP, contact Bruce Yelk at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (215) 599-7431. To become a member of PGTC, visit

Pride group hosts breakfast

Organizers of this summer’s Pride Festival of Central PA are inviting LGBT and ally individuals to learn more about the upcoming event at the annual Pride Breakfast, 9-11 a.m. April 18 at the Metropolitan Community Church of the Spirit, 2973 Jefferson St. in Harrisburg.

Festival board and committee members will answer community questions about the event, which will take place July 24-26, and guests can stock up on the assortment of Pride merchandise that will be available at the breakfast, such as rainbow flags, magnets, key chains and T-shirts. Applications for vendors and exhibitors will be available at the breakfast and are also accessible at

This year’s festival will include performances by ’80s teen icon Tiffany, as well as vocalist Charles Lee and singer-songwriter Janice Robinson.

Organizers of the breakfast are asking for a monetary donation to cover the cost of the food. City to market home ownership

Mayor Michael Nutter will be on hand to meet with potential homebuyers at the Philadelphia Housing Fair, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. April 14 in Dilworth Plaza, 1400 JFK Blvd.

The fair, sponsored by the city, the Building Industry Association, the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors and NeighborhoodsNow, is meant to promote homeownership as a means of creating neighborhood stability. The free event will bring together developers, Realtors, city agencies, mortgage companies and nonprofit organizations to discuss home-buying possibilities with residents.

For more information, visit or call 311.

— Jen Colletta

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