News Briefing: March 13-19, 2015

News Briefing: March 13-19, 2015

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Amicus brief accepted in trans case

A federal magistrate judge recently accepted for consideration an amicus brief submitted by six LGBT groups in a transgender antibias case.

Trans woman Kate L. Blatt is suing Cabela's Inc. for workplace bias and retaliation.

From September 2007 to March 2008, Blatt worked as a seasonal stocker at Cabela's outlet in Hamburg. Blatt contends Cabela's banned her from a female restroom, thus discriminating against her due to her disability, which was gender dysphoria.

Blatt also challenges the constitutionality of the Americans With Disabilities Act, which specifically excludes gender-identity disorder as a protected disability.

The ADA protects persons with disabilities from discrimination in private employment, public accommodations and governmental services.

In January, six LGBT groups submitted an amicus brief, stating that even if the ADA's GID exclusion is constitutional, the exclusion doesn't encompass gender dysphoria.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Leeson Jr. accepted for consideration the amicus brief.

Leeson also scheduled a pre-trial conference for 9 a.m. April 8 at the Edward N. Cahn Courthouse, 504 W. Hamilton St. in Allentown. The conference will be held on the third floor of the courthouse in Courtroom C.

Montco marriages still in limbo

Almost a year after marriage equality was enacted in Pennsylvania, the validity of about 100 same-sex marriages remains uncertain.

In the summer of 2013, Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples, even though marriage equality wasn't established until May 2014.

Now about 100 couples who received marriages licenses from Hanes are uncertain as to the validity of their marriages.

Michael P. Clarke is a solicitor for the Montgomery County Office of the Register of Wills and the Clerk of the Orphans Court. In an email last week, Clarke said he's been working with state officials to resolve the matter.

“We anticipate a resolution in the next few weeks,” Clarke said. “The proposed agreement will validate those marriage licenses issued by Mr. Hanes. We will provide additional information once the agreement is finalized.”

Clarke declined to comment on whether he's seeking a judge to validate the marriages.

Kenneth Oakes and Ed Rice are one of the couples whose marriage remains uncertain.

“After all the excitement of marriage equality in Pennsylvania, I hope our community hasn't forgotten about 100 couples who are currently in limbo,” Oakes told PGN. “Many of us helped to push forward marriage equality by supporting the efforts of Bruce Hanes, as he issued the first same-sex marriage licenses in the state. We, too, were a big part of the effort. And I hope we're not forgotten. Having this settled is the most important thing for me and Ed.”

Judge orders release of records in Scouts case

Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Mark I. Bernstein has ordered the release of documents pertaining to a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America.

In 2013, Patricia Evasew filed suit against the BSA, claiming the molestation of her son by a former Scoutmaster in Chester County caused her son to commit suicide.

The former Scoutmaster, Charles Morris, denies the allegations.

Evasew wants Morris to provide documents and other information pertaining to the case. But according to court records, Morris hasn’t provided the materials.

On March 2, Bernstein ordered attorneys for Morris to provide the materials to Evasew by March 12 or face sanctions.

A jury trial is tentatively scheduled for January 2016.

Neither side had a comment for this story.

Nizah committee to meet

A meeting of the Justice for Nizah committee is scheduled for 6-7 p.m. March 16 at the William Way LGBT Center, 1315 Spruce St.

Nizah Morris was a transgender woman found with a fatal head wound shortly after she received a “courtesy ride” from Philadelphia police.

Her homicide remains unsolved, and advocates are seeking a state probe.

Agenda items for the J4N meeting include updates on legal and political efforts for transparency in the Morris case, and plans for an April 15 panel discussion about the case at William Way.

The public is invited to attend.  For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Activists to attend school-board meeting

Several members of the Freethought Society, a nontheist organization, will attend an Octorara Area School District board meeting next month to protest on-campus Boy Scouts recruitment assemblies.

School officials allow the Scouts to hold recruitment assemblies in the district's elementary school.

But Freethought members oppose the assemblies because the Scouts exclude LGBT adults and nontheist youths and adults.

"The Octorara public-school district shouldn't be giving preferential treatment to the BSA," said Freethought Society president Margaret A. Downey. "It's just common sense. Several parents are extremely concerned. We look forward to attending the April 20 meeting and appealing to school-board members' sense of decency. The exclusionary policies of the BSA do damage, especially to impressionable youth. The on-campus BSA recruitment assemblies must end immediately."

The school-board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 20 at the Octorara Junior High School, 228 Highland Ave. in Atglen.

— Timothy Cwiek

Back2Basics fundraises for Law Project

Stimulus is hosting a Back2Basics dance party this weekend, with proceeds to benefit the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania.

The party starts at 10 p.m. March 14 at Tabu, 200 S. 12th St. Cover is $5 before midnight or $10 after.

There will be drink specials all night, and DJs Deluxx and Ka$h will spin old-school hip-hop and pop.

For more information, visit http://on.fb.me/1wqJWuC.

— Jen Colletta


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