News Briefing
Dec 26, 2013 | 683 views | 0 0 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print
JSPAN supports Morris probe

The Jewish Social Policy Action Network, a progressive agency in the Jewish community, has sent a letter to state Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane supporting a probe into the Nizah Morris case.

The Dec. 10 letter urges Kane “to review the facts and the police department’s investigation into the Nizah Morris homicide.”

The JSPAN letter also seeks a response from Kane “indicating your office’s intent with regard to this matter.”

Morris, 47, was a transgender woman who became a homicide victim shortly after entering a police vehicle in 2002.

In April, the city’s Police Advisory Commission issued a report that recommends state and federal probes of the Morris case, citing an “appalling” local investigation.

In a related matter, on Dec. 18 the city released a nondisclosure agreement between the PAC and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, which the city law department claims prevents the release of numerous Morris documents in the PAC’s possession.

The agreement specifically allows the PAC “to cite, quote or describe the [Morris] documents.”

Efforts are underway to access information in the documents.

The next public meeting of the PAC will be held 6:30 p.m. Jan. 27 at 990 Spring Garden St., seventh floor.

Methodist minister appeals dismissal

The Rev. Frank Schaefer, who was defrocked as a Methodist minister after performing his son’s same-sex marriage, has filed an appeal of his penalty.

Schaefer, 52, was stripped of his credentials during a Dec. 19 meeting with the church’s Board of Ordained Ministry in Norristown.

For the past 11 years, he’s served as pastor of the Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in South Lebanon Township.

But a church congregant lodged a formal complaint against Schaefer for officiating at his son’s same-sex marriage, almost six years after the marriage took place.

“I will not give up the fight,” Schaefer said, after his defrocking. “I will continue to be a voice for the LGBT community.”

Schaefer’s appeal will be considered by a regional appeals committee. A ruling by the committee can be appealed to the church’s judicial council.

“[Schaefer] has filed an appeal on various grounds, primarily on the ground that he can’t be punished for what he may intend to do in the future,” said William E. Ewing, an attorney for Schaefer. “The trial-court verdict gave him a 30-day suspension and said he’d have to promise that in the future he’d obey the Discipline in its entirety, or surrender his credentials. Also, the trial-court verdict did not authorize anyone to revoke his credentials, but left it to [Schaefer] whether or not to surrender them. The action of the Board of Ordained Ministry in purporting to revoke [Schaefer’s] credentials not only punished him for what he intends to do in the future but also was completely unauthorized.”

Ewing also said Schaefer is considering accepting an offer to serve as a Methodist minister in California.

A spokesperson for Bishop Peggy A. Johnson of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church said she hadn’t seen the appeal and had no comment about it.

Schaefer’s two-day church trial was held in November at the Innabah Camp and Retreat Center in Spring City, Chester County.

Settlement conference slated for trans litigant

A settlement conference will be held next month in the case of Bobbie Burnett, a transwoman who’s suing the city in federal court for employment discrimination.

Burnett, a city library assistant, filed suit in 2009, alleging workplace bias dating back to 2001, shortly after she transitioned to the opposite gender.

Burnett’s lawsuit alleges constitutional violations of right to due process, equal protection under the law, freedom of expression and other rights.

She’s also suing under Title 7 of the Civil Rights of 1964 for alleged discrimination on account of her sex.

Additionally, Burnett alleges that four of her coworkers intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon her, which is prohibited under state law.

The settlement conference is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Jan. 8 in Courtroom 3-E of the U.S. Courthouse, 601 Market St.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Lynne A. Sitarski will preside, according to court records.

If the settlement conference is unavailing, a jury trial is expected in 2014.

— Timothy Cwiek LGBT marching band to perform at Mummers

The Philadelphia Freedom Band will lead the Mummers Parade next week, marching and performing alongside a contingent of drag queens and kings.

The band, whose members last year participated in President Obama’s inauguration, will perform “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga at Washington Avenue, Pine Street and at City Hall.

This marks the first time the LGBT marching band is participating in the Mummers Parade.

The Philadelphia Freedom Band participates in concerts across the Delaware Valley.

For more information on the band, visit

COLOURS celebrates Kwanzaa

The COLOURS Organization will hold its annual Kwanzaa celebration from 6-9 p.m. Dec. 28 at William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St.

The night will entail a tribute to the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

COLOURS will also feature a tribute to celebrate ancestors through the pouring of libations. The night will include plenty of entertainment with spoken word, live vocal performances, dance and light hors d’oeuvres.

For more information, visit or call 215-851-1975.

Awards program looking for noms

Back for its second year, the Philly DoGooder Awards, a collaboration between and Here’s My Chance, is now accepting nominations for 2014.

The awards program recognizes the city’s nonprofit organizations, individuals and businesses that promote good deeds.

The theme for 2014 is “Community Building,” and nominees are asked to submit videos detailing their do-gooder efforts.

For more information, visit

— Angela Thomas

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