News briefing Jan. 9-15, 2015

News briefing Jan. 9-15, 2015

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Deadline extension granted in trans case

A federal judge has granted a two-week extension for transwoman Kate L. Blatt to challenge the legality of excluding gender-identity disorder protection in

the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The ADA protects persons with disabilities from discrimination in employment, public accommodations, transportation and other venues.

Blatt contends that Congress acted unconstitutionally in 1989 when excluding GID as a protected disability under the ADA.

Blatt is suing her former employer, Cabela’s Inc., alleging discrimination on the basis of her sex and disability.

Blatt, 33, says she suffered from GID while working at Cabela’s in Hamburg, Pa.

She says Cabela’s banned her from a female restroom, thus discriminating against her due to her disability.

But Cabela’s argues that, since GID isn’t covered by the ADA, Blatt couldn’t have been discriminated against because of a disability.

Blatt had a Jan. 5 deadline to file a legal challenge of GID’s exclusion in the ADA.

But due to the complicated nature of the issue, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl gave Blatt until Jan. 20 to file a challenge.

Sidney L. Gold, an attorney for Blatt, said several organizations have expressed an interest in filing friend-of-the-court briefs in support of Blatt.

Judge assigned in Scouts case

On Dec. 19, Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Esther R. Sylvester was assigned to rule on whether a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America should be dismissed.

Patricia Evasew alleges that Charles “Chris” Morris repeatedly molested her son Thomas in the 1980s while serving as Thomas’ Scoutmaster.

In February 2012, Thomas, 38, shot and killed himself in the parking lot of a building where his BSA troop met.

Last year, Patricia Evasew filed suit against Morris and the BSA in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. She’s seeking more than $50,000 in damages.

In court filings, Morris acknowledged being a Scout leader for BSA Troop 67 of the Chester County Council between January 1987 and December 1992.

Morris, of Paoli, also acknowledged knowing Thomas Evasew, but denied molesting him or contributing to his death.

The BSA seeks the dismissal of Evasew’s lawsuit as meritless.

If Sylvester doesn’t dismiss Evasew’s lawsuit, a jury trial is tentatively scheduled for September 2015.

“Judge Sylvester is a very bright and fair judge and we look forward to her decision,” said Kenneth M. Rothweiler, an attorney for Evasew.

A spokesperson for the BSA had no comment as of presstime.

Hanes to speak in March

D. Bruce Hanes, a Montgomery County official who issued the first marriage license to a same-sex couple in Pennsylvania’s history, will speak about the experience later this winter.

Hanes’ presentation, entitled “Marriage Equality: What’s the Problem?” is free and open to the public. The event will take place 7 p.m. March 16 at the Ludington Library, 5 S. Bryn Mawr Ave. in Bryn Mawr.

It’s sponsored by the Freethought Society, a nontheist organization.

“Mr. Hanes is a hero in our community,” said Margaret A. Downey, president of the Freethought Society. “His stance on same-gender marriages stands as a testimony to the power of activism.”

For more information, contact Downey at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

— Timothy Cwiek


IBA starts mentoring effort

The area’s LGBT chamber of commerce has launched a new program to provide professional-development opportunities to future LGBT leaders.

The Independence Business Alliance this month started a mentoring program. The nine-month program will aim to strengthen relationships between experienced IBA members and IBA’s student membership base.

For more information, or if you are interested in applying for the program as a mentee or mentor, contact Tom Cavanaugh at 215-557-0190 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Applications are due no later than Feb. 8.

Workshop encourages legacy-planning

The first couple weeks after the New Year are often a time of reflection, and what better way to ponder your legacy than with a Penn’s Village workshop that asks, “How will family and friends remember us?”

The Legacy Project event will take place 3-5 p.m. Jan. 12 in  Room 410 of Academy House, Broad and Locust streets. Led by University of Pennsylvania Medical School Clinical Professor Judith Coche, Ph.D., the event will prompt participants to ponder their values, interests and accomplishments, and which personal stories they wish to share.

Participants are asked to bring one or more photos that tell a story about them. Notebooks for journaling will be provided. Space is limited. To register, call 215-925-7333 or via email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

— Ryan Kasley




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