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GLAD Sues Social Security Administration For Lesbian Widow Social Security Benefits - VIDEO

Tevyaw Baker

On Monday, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) filed a lawsuit on behalf of a lesbian widow seeking parity of Social Security benefits for married same-sex couples, reports Washington Blade.

The litigation was filed by GLAD in the U.S. District Court of Rhode Island on behalf of 56-year-old Deborah Tevyaw, who was denied spousal disability benefits and a lump sum death payment from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

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In 2005, Tevyaw was married in Massachusetts to Patricia Baker. Baker died in 2011 following a battle against lung cancer. In her final months, she lobbied for the legalization of gay marriage in Rhode Island, testifying on the issue before the state Senate.

However, despite the legality of the marriage, Tevyaw was denied benefits upon her Baker’s death. The SSA at first asserted the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) blocked her from receiving benefits. However, even after the Supreme Court ruled Section 3 of the law was unconstitutional, the SSA allegedly continued to deny Tevyaw benefits on the basis that Rhode Island wouldn’t have recognized her marriage at the time of Baker’s death.

Tevyaw has since been living on a monthly income of $732 and was forced to sell her home she owned for more than 38 years because she can’t afford the mortgage.

In a statement, Tevyaw said:

“I’ve lost my wife and my best friend, and Social Security has made that so much worse by telling me that in their eyes, I was not Pat’s wife. Not only is that hurtful and insulting, it has meant that I am living in poverty. I am not looking for a handout; this is money that Pat earned through hard work.”

The lawsuit also notes Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chaffee’s executive order on May 24, 2012 recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages and contends the directive should apply to Tevyaw’s marriage even though Chaffee signed it before Baker’s death.

SSA spokesperson William “BJ” Jarrett said the agency agrees the issue behind the lawsuit “deserves additional consideration. He added that the SSA plans to review its policy manuals based on analysis of Rhode Island state common law.

Watch a 2012 interview with Tevyaw and Baker, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Rhode Island Firefighters Allege Rights Were Violated Following Order To Drive In Gay Pride Parade - VIDEO

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A lawyer for Providence, Rhode Island has argued that former city mayor Buddy Cianci did not violate the rights of firefighters ordered to drive a fire truck in a 2001 Gay Pride parade, reports StarTribune.

A lawyer for the two firefighters yesterday told the Rhode Island Supreme Court that her clients' constitutional religion and free speech rights were violated when they were ordered to take part in the parade.

Representing Cianci, Kevin McHugh, who said the case is “ridiculous,” argued that the city sent trucks to various parades as a matter of course and driving in the 2001 Gay Pride parade was part of the firefighters' regular duties.

Although the firefighters' lawyer argued that the act of participating in the parade suggested that they supported gay rights, justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg said they are “anonymous public servants” and compared Cianci’s order to being called to fight a fire in a temple or in a mosque.

Cianci, who was forced from office in 2002 following a conviction for corruption and is currently in the midst of a campaign to win back City Hall, said if elected he would likely make the same decision again.

Back in June, Brett Smiley, another candidate for the mayoral race in Providence, claimed in a campaign video that he proposed to his husband Jim DeRentis with a PowerPoint presentation.

Watch an NBC report on the case, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Providence Mayoral Candidate Brett Smiley Features Husband in Charming Campaign Ad: VIDEO

Smiley

Brett Smiley proposed to his husband Jim DeRentis with a PowerPoint presentation, or so says the Providence, Rhode Island mayoral candidate's new campaign ad. Thus, he's organized!

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Gay Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox Steps Down After FBI Raid of Office and Home

Gordon Fox, the gay Rhode Island House Speaker who helped bring marriage equality to the state in 2012, has resigned from his leadership post and will not run for re-election following a federal raid of his Statehouse office and home as part of a criminal investigation. AP reports:

Gordon fox"Because of the respect I have for all members of the House of Representatives, I am resigning as Speaker," Fox said in a written statement emailed to reporters. "The process of governing must continue and the transition of leadership must be conducted in an orderly manner."

The 52-year-old Providence Democrat, who became the nation's first openly gay House speaker in 2010, said he planned to serve out the remainder of his term through the end of the year, but that "my personal focus going forward will be on my family and dealing with the investigation."

The Friday raids were carried out by the U.S. attorney’s office, FBI, IRS and state police. Officials have yet to comment on the nature of the investigation.

Earlier this year, Fox ran into trouble with the state ethics commission for failing to disclose more than $40,000 in legal work for a Province economic development agency. He agreed to pay a $1,500 fine. 


America's First Publicly Out Trans High School Coach: VIDEO

Coach

OutSports has profiled Stephen Alexander, America’s first openly transgender high school coach who is speaking out about his process of transitioning from Jennifer to Stephen, coming from a conservative small town in New England. Growing up in Gloucester, Rhode Island, a town still imbued with the “old yankee mentality” and replete with "super Republican strongholds,” Stephen felt at odds with his community and his own body.” He was an athletic superstar, a tomboy and desperately wanting to become the boy he knew he was:

"He was very uncomfortable as a girl," his mother, Linda Dandrow, remembered. Looking back at the signs, she wondered why she didn't see it coming. "He often referred to his breasts as tumors. ‘Those are tumors on my chest, I want to get them off.'"

Though Stephen knew he was a boy since the age of five, his family struggled to understand his coming out to them as transgender:

PICIt was desperately confusing to them. "Transgender" wasn't even a vocabulary word taught in school. They had never heard of it. They were convinced the "girl" they knew was simply a lesbian, which they could understand. Some therapy, they assumed, would straighten him all out.

Instead, the therapy straightened out his family. It took years, but eventually they came to realize — with the help of a psychiatrist — that Alexander wasn't a lesbian, and that one of the treatments for his situation was gender-reassignment surgery.

"One of the things [the psychiatrist] said was the brain is male and the body is female, and there is a disconnect," his mother Linda said...Ultimately, his parents accepted that he was transgender and that he wanted to get gender-reassignment surgery. Together they made the trip to New York City to be with their son for the procedure.

However, after leaving Rhode Island for New York, a place “where people would accept me initially from the get-go, rather than seeing me through what's going on in their head,” he finally decided to return home to Gloucester and his passion for sports, a passion that he says saved him, and began coaching:

Alexander has already coached five different sports from middle school to high school: basketball, tennis, volleyball, soccer and baseball. He's coached both girl's and boy's teams. He's been an assistant coach and a head coach.

"Now he's back and he's coaching as a male in the system that he went through as a female," said Alexander's proud sister. "And people are soliciting him for coaching” [...]

Coaching has given him a way to engage the community in a positive way, to impact the youth and families on a level they can't ignore. That wasn't his plan — he was simply looking to follow his passion for sports and contribute to youth in a meaningful way. What it's done is give people a way to understand more easily that Alexander is — like them — just another human being.

You can read the entire article from OutSports HERE and don’t miss a video about Stephen’s journey AFTER THE JUMP...

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Catholic College in Rhode Island Disinvites Gay Marriage Supporter from Speaking Engagement

Providence College, a Roman Catholic school in Rhode Island, has canceled a lecture by author, lecturer, professor of philosophy, and same-sex marriage supporter John Corvino, the NYT reports:

CorvinoThe lecturer, John Corvino, chairman of the philosophy department at Wayne State University, in Detroit, has spoken previously at more than 10 Catholic colleges and often appears in friendly debates with religious opponents of gay marriage. His appearance at Providence College had been co-sponsored by nine departments and programs, and some of the organizers said the cancellation surprised them.

The cancellation was announced by the college’s provost on Saturday, one day after the Roman Catholic Church was rocked by the publication of a long interview in which Pope Francis called for the church to “find a new balance” by refraining from frequent condemnations of homosexuality, abortion and birth control, and emphasizing mercy and love.

Said the college: “Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.”


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