News Briefing

News Briefing

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Pols file amicus brief

Eight current and former state lawmakers who oppose same-sex marriage have filed an amicus brief in a lawsuit that seeks to establish marriage equality in Pennsylvania.

On April 29, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones 3d granted permission for the men to file a 13-page brief in Whitewood v. Wolf.

Their brief contends that allowing same-sex marriages could increase unplanned pregnancies and the state’s welfare rolls.

“When unplanned children arrive outside of marriage, typically a single parent raises that child with the aid of the state,” the lawmakers argued.

The current lawmakers are Reps. Matthew E. Baker (R-68th Dist.), Paul I. Clymer (R-145th Dist.) and Rep. Jerry A. Stern (R-80th Dist.), and the former lawmakers are Jerry Birmelin, Allan Egolf, Dennis E. Leh, Samuel E. Rohrer and Thomas F. Yewcic.

All voted for the state’s Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.

A ruling in Whitewood is expected within the next several weeks.

Longtime adult cinema, bookstore evicted

After more than 40 years, the Sansom Cinema and Tom Cat Bookstore have been evicted from their Center City location.

Craig Grossman, senior managing director for Goldman Properties Co., said non-payment of rent prompted the eviction from 120 S. 13th St.

The decision is final, Grossman said.

The establishments have provided adult-oriented entertainment to the LGBT community at that location since 1971. The cinema operated on the street level and the bookstore and video arcade on the lower level.

A representative of the cinema and bookstore couldn’t be reached for comment.

Scheduling order issued in Shephard case

The state Superior Court recently issued a scheduling order in the appeal of William F. Smithson, a gay man accused of strangling coworker Jason Shephard in 2006.

In 2008, Smithson was convicted of first-degree murder. However, his advocates say there’s no direct evidence linking him to Shephard’s murder.

They say Smithson’s conviction was due largely to homophobia and that police failed to investigate F. Bruce Covington — who was also inside Smithson’s home when Shephard died.

Covington was convicted of drug-related charges stemming from the incident, but prosecutors say he wasn’t the killer.

In a prior interview, Smithson said he was heavily drugged by Covington and passed out while Shephard was still alive.

Smithson is requesting a new trial, claiming his trial attorney failed to represent him effectively.

But in January, Delaware County Common Pleas Judge Barry C. Dozor denied Smithson’s request, holding that the defendant’s trial attorney adequately represented him.

Smithson is appealing Dozor’s ruilng in state Superior Court.

The court issued a scheduling order, giving Smithson’s attorney, Henry D. Forrest, until May 12 to file an appellate brief.

Prosecutor William D. Toal 3d has 30 days after that brief is filed to file an appellee brief. Then, Forrest has an opportunity to file a reply brief.

Then the court has the option of hearing oral arguments or issuing a ruling based solely on the briefs.

— Tim Cwiek

ActionAIDS to benefit from fashion show

ActionAIDS will be the beneficiary of a local trunk show.

The Velvet Lily will host a trunk show featuring lingerie created by designer Britta Uschkamp, with 15 percent of proceeds to go to the HIV/AIDS service organization.

The show will be held at 6 p.m May 7 at 1204 Chestnut St.

The event is sponsored by Fun Factory and will include cocktails, a raffle and treats from Picture Perfect Catering and music from Deep C.

For more information, visit

Church fundraises for The Attic

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Atonement will host a gay Bingo event to benefit The Attic Youth Center 5:30 p.m. May 3 at 1542 E. Montgomery Ave.

The event will be hosted by Pearl E. Gates and Syboll and will feature drag performances, prizes, a 50/50 raffle and food available for purchase.

Admission is $5 and will include two Bingo cards. Additional cards will be available for purchase.

For more information, visit

— Angela Thomas

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