News Briefing
Jul 10, 2014 | 593 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
William Way endorses Morris probe

The William Way LGBT Community Center supports a state probe of the Nizah Morris case.

Chris Bartlett, executive director of the center, confirmed its support earlier this month.

Morris sustained a fatal head injury shortly after she entered a police vehicle in December 2002. The transwoman’s homicide remains unsolved, and advocates want a state investigation.

The center adds its name to about 20 federal, state and local organizations that support a state probe into the Morris case.

The Justice for Nizah committee continues to seek additional supporters prior to sending a letter to state Attorney General Kathleen Kane, urging her to investigate the case.

Jordan Gwendolyn Davis, a member of the Justice for Nizah committee, commended the William Way Center for endorsing a state probe.

“Over the past few years, the William Way Community Center has sought greater accountability towards including the transgender community,” Davis told PGN. “I see this as a step towards that.”

Schneller seeks involvement in Whitewood appeal

James D. Schneller, a prolific anti-LGBT activist, has asked to be an appellant in a marriage-equality challenge pending in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

Schneller claims a lower-court ruling in May that legalizes same-sex marriages in Pennsylvania infringes on people’s religious freedoms.

The ruling in the case, which is known as Whitewood, is being appealed by a Schuylkill County official.

Last month, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals said Schneller may file a five-page pleading, explaining why he should be allowed to appeal the Whitewood ruling.

He has until July 14 to file the pleading, according to court records.

Schneller also seeks involvement in a marriage-equality case pending in state Supreme Court.

State officials say 124 same-sex couples who received marriage licenses in Montgomery County prior to May 20 should get new marriage licenses.

But county officials maintain the validity of the 124 marriages, and the case remains ongoing.

Gay inmate seeks prison transfer

Kenneth J. Houck Jr., an openly gay inmate who was assaulted while reading an LGBT novel, has requested a transfer to a prison closer to his family.

In November 2011, Houck was brutally assaulted by two other inmates at the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia.

He sustained multiple fractures to his right leg, along with other injuries, which he continues to recover from.

Houck, 39, is currently incarcerated at federal prison in Littleton, Colo.

In May, he requested a transfer to a federal prison in Hopewell, Va., which is closer to his family.

In a letter to PGN, Houck said the Hopewell facility has appropriate health-care resources for his ongoing medical and mental-health issues.

To date, his transfer request hasn’t been approved by prison authorities.

Chris Burke, a spokesperson for the federal Bureau of Prisons, didn’t comment specifically on Houck’s request. But in general, Burke said, transfer requests are handled by an inmate’s case manager.

Houck is serving a 97-month sentence after pleading guilty to one count of transporting child pornography.

His scheduled release date is April 24, 2017.

— Timothy Cwiek Youth poetry event comes to Philly

The 17th annual Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam will be held in Philadelphia July 16-19.

About 500 youth poets and spoken word-artists ages 13-19 will compete in a multi-round poetry slam competition. Competitors will also participate in workshops and meetings and engage in conversation about youth issues that are often overlooked.

Brave New Voices is the subject of a hit HBO series, and it will capture teens speaking out about bullying, mental illness, LGBTQ issues and more. For more information on Brave New Voices, visit

—Matty Bennett

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