News Briefing

News Briefing

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Lesbian clemency request pending

The clemency request of Lois J. Farquharson remains pending with the state Board of Pardons.

In 1974, Farquharson, who is a lesbian, was convicted of murdering Leon Weingrad in Philadelphia. She’s been incarcerated for 40 years, and she’s believed to be the oldest female inmate in Pennsylvania.

In December, BOP members indefinitely tabled Farquharson’s request for clemency.

Jane Keller, an advocate for Farquharson, expressed hope that the BOP will revisit the matter promptly

“Lois’ age is the obvious reason that the delay is simply cruel,” Keller told PGN. “She will be 89 in June. The BOP has blessedly given her reason for hope — for the first time in her 40-plus years of incarceration. But it’s left her in purgatory as she watches time slip away — knowing that even if the BOP recommends clemency, she must wait for the governor’s approval and spend a year in a halfway house.”

The BOP’s next public hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. March 13 in Room 437 of the Main Capitol Building in Harrisburg. At presstime, the agenda items weren’t announced.

Activist appeals denial of AIDS-funding info

AIDS activist Jacob P. Fyda is appealing the city’s denial of access to funding recommendations by a confidential city panel that helps allocate millions of AIDS dollars in the nine-county region.

On Jan. 15, Fyda filed a state Right-to-Know law request, seeking all funding recommendations made by the city’s Resource Allocations Advisory Committee since January 2013.

On Feb. 24, city attorneys denied Fyda’s request, claiming the funding recommendations aren’t available to the public.

This week, Fyda appealed to the state Office of Open Records.

Last year, Fyda requested the committee’s membership list. But city attorneys argued that releasing the list would violate important privacy rights.

In January, a Philadelphia judge sided with the city, and Fyda didn’t appeal the judge’s ruling.

New LGBT initiative kicks off

A new LGBT initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia will host a cocktail party from 6-8 p.m. March 5 at Valanni, 1229 Spruce St.

The event is co-chaired by LGBT advocates Lynn Zeitlin and David Gold.

“In addition to sharing information about Federation’s existing services and resources within the LGBT community, this gathering will help brainstorm new directions and ideas about how Federation can better serve its LGBT constituents and identify unmet needs for services,” Zeitlin said.

She added: “Federation leadership has established this [LGBT] initiative to find out how much more can be done to address the needs of the LGBT Greater Philadelphia Jewish community.”

Drinks and hors d’oeuvres will be served, and a $36 cover charge is requested.

For more information and to register, please contact Rachel Sigman at Federation, 215-832-0513 or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

— Tim Cwiek

Hearing continued in murder case

The case against a man accused of murdering a local transgender woman last summer remains stalled pending a psychological evaluation of the defendant.

Charles Sargent, 44, is charged with the murder of Diamond Williams last summer. He has also been charged with possession of an instrument of crime and abuse of a corpse.

At a Feb. 21 hearing, Municipal Court Judge James DeLeon ordered a continuance in the case until a psychological evaluation, first ordered in December, is completed. A status hearing on the case will be held at 8:30 a.m. March 21 at the Criminal Justice Center, 1301 Filbert St., in Room 406.

Sargent is being held at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility.

Giovanni’s Room program rescheduled

After being postponed because of inclement weather, the Giovanni’s Room 40th-anniversary program has been rescheduled to 7:30-9 p.m. March 11 at William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Pine St.

The event will bring owners from the past and present together to share their stories of working and reading at the nation’s oldest LGBT bookstore.

Last year, owner Ed Hermance announced his plan to retire and sell the bookstore, and he will provide an update about the store’s future.

The event is free to the public.

Adams memorial set

A memorial date has been set for late LGBT and HIV/AIDS activist Jaci Adams.

Adams died Feb. 15 from complications of cancer.

Her memorial will be held at 5:30 p.m. March 21 at Church of St. Luke and The Epiphany, 330 S. 13th St.

Casinos come together for marriage contest

Resorts and casinos in Atlantic City will come together to celebrate marriage equality.

Caesars, Harrah’s Resort, Bally’s and Showboat will host Instagram contest “We Say ‘I Do’ To Love,” in which same-sex couples will have the chance to win a $50,000 wedding. The package will include a ceremony and reception for 100 guests, a cocktail hour, dinner, custom cake, photographers, flowers, entertainment, accommodations and bachelor and bachelorette parties.

Contestants must create a 15-second video detailing why they should win the giveaway and upload it to Instagram, tagging @Total_AC with the hashtag #LoveIsLoveInAC.

Submissions will be accepted until March 14.

—Angela Thomas

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