Lambda Legal Hub




Gay California Teacher Files Discrimination Lawsuit Against School District

Lambda Legal has filed a lawsuit against Hesperia Unified School District in San Bernardino County, California, on behalf of a lesbian teacher, Julia Frost, who was formerly employed at Sultana High School, alleging that she was fired for being gay. The AP reports the lawsuit, filed in San Bernardino County Superior Court on Tuesday, insists Frost was a victim of "unlawful discrimination, harassment and retaliation because of her sexual orientation":

Lambda-Frost--1The suit alleges that administrators created a hostile environment for Frost and gay students, singling them out for harassment, and investigated Frost for "teaching homosexuality." The suit said that despite the harassment, Frost still received an outstanding performance review.

The district said in a statement Frost was "legitimately and appropriately dismissed" and is taking legal action for personal gain.

Frost was a co-sponsor with another teacher who is not gay of the Gay/Straight Alliance, which has chapters in schools across the country. The lawsuit alleges that the club's activities and announcements were censored and specifically omitted from a listing of school organizations in a student handbook.

Frost, who had been an English teacher at Sultana High from August 2011 until May 2013, paints a picture of a strongly anti-gay school and staff. Administrators allegedly threatened to reveal students' sexual orientation to their parents after complaining of bullying. Frost says her teaching contract wasn't renewed after she helped a student print and fill out a complaint form against a teacher "who told a student to 'take the gay headband off' in class and commented 'that's so gay' in a disparaging manner."

(Photo via FrontiersLA)


Meet Justin and Will, Who are Challenging West Virginia's Ban on Gay Marriage: VIDEO

Westvirginia

On October 1st, we reported that Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit on behalf of three gay couples challenging West Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage.

One of those couples, Justin Murdock and his partner William Glavaris, are profiled in a beautiful new video from Fairness West Virginia. Justin and Will are based in Huntington and Justin is a board member of the organization.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Fairness West Virginia writes:

Faces of Fairness is a groundbreaking project is the first of its kind in West Virginia and is comprised of a touring photography exhibit, a documentary film, and a web-based archive. The participants articulate the many issues that face LGBT West Virginians including second-parent adoption rights, medical benefits, hospital visitation rights, employment and housing discrimination, advocacy and political representation, transgender rights and protections, marriage equality, and bullying.

Currently West Virginia is the only state in the southern United States that has been able to defeat and defend against a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. However, it is still perfectly legal in West Virginia to deny employment or housing to an LGBT person based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. It is also still legal to deny medical benefits to same-sex partners and their children.

Continue reading "Meet Justin and Will, Who are Challenging West Virginia's Ban on Gay Marriage: VIDEO" »


Federal Judge Hears Arguments in ACLU Class Action Suit Challenging Virginia Gay Marriage Ban

A federal judge in Harrisonburg, Virginia heard arguments yesterday on the certification of a class action suit challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage, the AP reports:

Aclu_virginiaU.S. District Judge Michael Urbanski heard arguments Tuesday. According to court records and the ACLU of Virginia, which is representing the plaintiffs, he did not immediately rule.

He also took under advisement motions to dismiss Gov. Bob McDonnell and Staunton Circuit Court Clerk Thomas E. Roberts as defendants. The other defendant is Janet Rainey, the state registrar of vital records.

The lawsuit, which is one of two high-profile marriage cases in Virginia, was filed on August 1. The other case was filed by the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which recently took the Prop. 8 case to the Supreme Court.


Chicago Cabbie Sued for Kicking Gay Couple Out of Taxi For Kissing

Cab

Back in June, we reported on a Chicago cabbie who tried to force Steven White and his boyfriend Matt McCrea from his cab on the side of the rain-drenched Kennedy Expressway after they kissed briefly in the back seat. CBS Chicago reported then:

During the ride, McCrea "leaned over to look at something on the phone and then he leaned in to kiss me," White recalls.

McCrea says it was a closed-mouth kiss that lasted all of a second. It did not go over well with their cab driver, the two men say. "He indicated that it was a public mode of transportation and we shouldn't kiss in his cab," White says. "He pulled the cab over and stopped and wanted us to get out - on the Kennedy."

Now, Lambda Legal has filed a complaint on behalf of the couple:

"A taxi-cab company, like any other business in Illinois that offers services to the public, is bound by the Illinois Human Rights Act to not discriminate based on sexual orientation, among other protected categories," said Christopher Clark, Senior Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal. "What happened to Steven and Matthew was not only hurtful and unlawful, it illustrates exactly why Illinois' citizens need the state's long-standing Human Rights Act to protect them against dangerous situations like this."

At the time, the cab driver claimed the couple was "making sex," but police found no evidence to support that claim. 


Lambda Legal Tells 'New Jersey Love Story,' Celebrates Couple Married After 40 Years: VIDEO

Cindymaureen

A new video from Lambda Legal shares the story of Cindy Meneghin and Maureen Kilian, two women who met their junior year of high school and have been together since, a total of over forty years. Cindy and Maureen were one of six couples originally contacted to join the fight for same-sex marriage as plaintiffs alongside Lambda Legal. Now, they are legally married in the state of New Jersey. In the video, the couple recounts the first time they met, their difficulty acquiring a marriage license over a decade ago, and the joy they felt as they finally signed the papers.  

Congratulations to Cindy and Maureen, as well as to all the other couples benefiting from the recent same-sex marriage ruling in the Garden State!  

Watch the moving video, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Lambda Legal Tells 'New Jersey Love Story,' Celebrates Couple Married After 40 Years: VIDEO" »


Lambda Legal Appeals HIV-Positive Man's Transmission Conviction to Iowa Supreme Court

Yesterday, Lambda Legal filed an appeal in the Iowa Supreme Court over the conviction of Nick Rhoades, an HIV-positive Iowan who was initially sentenced to 25 years in prison and required to register as a sex offender based on a one-time sexual encounter with another man during which they used a condom, said the organization via press release.

RhoadesLambda explains the case:

In June 2008, Rhoades had a one-time sexual encounter with Adam Plendl during which they used a condom. Several days later, Plendl was told by a friend that Rhoades might be HIV-positive.The police were contacted, and Mr. Plendl cooperated fully in the prosecution of Mr. Rhoades. The police arrested Rhoades in September 2008, and on the advice of his counsel, he pled guilty. Despite the fact that a condom was used and Mr. Plendl did not contract HIV, Rhoades was convicted under Iowa's HIV criminalization law. He received the maximum sentence: 25 years in prison and classification as the most serious type of sex offender. Subsequently, the court suspended his prison sentence, and he was placed on supervised probation for five years. On March 15, 2010, Rhoades filed an Application for Post-Conviction Relief, arguing that the attorney who advised him to plead guilty had failed to inform him of the specifics of the statute, resulting in his conviction for a crime he did not in fact commit. In December 2011, the district court denied the application, and Lambda Legal began representing Rhoades on appeal. Oral argument were presented to the Iowa Court of Appeals in early September (2013), and on October 2, a three-judge panel affirmed Rhoades's conviction.

Thirty-nine states have HIV-specific criminal statutes or have brought HIV-related criminal charges resulting in more than 160 prosecutions in the United States in the past four years. Among other things, HIV criminalization perpetuates the many myths and misconceptions that fuel other types of discrimination against people living with HIV. It sends an inaccurate message regarding prevention responsibility, creates a disincentive to getting tested, and may actually discourage disclosure of HIV status.

Added Scott Schoettes, HIV Project Director for Lambda Legal: "We're asking the Iowa Supreme Court to review this case because the facts here don't add up to a conviction. The Court of Appeals' decision was based on a misinterpretation of the plain language of the statute, and we look forward to presenting the case to the state's supreme court. A person who uses a condom and engages in safe sex, as Nick did, does not have the intent required to support a conviction under Iowa's law addressing exposure to HIV."

More on the case at Lambda Legal's website.

Previously on Towleroad...
Nick Rhoades: Imprisoned fro Months, Punished for Life, for Failure to Disclose [tlrd]
Criminalizing the HIV-Positive Community [tlrd]


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