LGBT

Attorney Claims Same-Sex Marriage Licenses Violate Tennessee Constitution

A former state legislator and general counsel for the Government Defense Fund — a sister organization to the Family Action Council — recently sent a letter to all 95 county clerks in Tennessee saying that issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples is a violation of the Tennessee state constitution, the Washington Blade reports. While the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, David Fowler contends that by issuing these marriage licenses, the clerks are abdicating provisions in TCA Title 36, Chapter 3. Although Fowler did not specify any legal action against the clerks, he said he is representing ministers who are considering “what steps should next be taken by them … to be assured that they are not affirming a form of civil marriage contrary to their beliefs.”

read more »

Bass Berry Receives Perfect Score from HRC Regarding LGBT Policies

Tennessee based law firm Bass, Berry & Sims PLC recently received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's annual Corporate Equality Index, which ranks companies on diversity and inclusion and public commitment to LGBTQ equality, the Nashville Business Journal reports. HRC touts the report as the national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer employees. Other Tennessee companies receiving perfect scores include AllianceBernstein LP, Asurion LLC, Genesco Inc. and Haven Behavioral Healthcare. 

read more »

Nashville Metro Council Passes Resolution Condemning Gay Adoption Bill

The Nashville City Council yesterday passed a resolution to formally condemn state legislation that allows child placement agencies to deny adoptions to gay families based on religious beliefs, WTVF Nashville reports. The bill, HB836/SB1304, amends TCA Title 36, Chapter 1, Part 1 and “prohibits a private licensed child-placing agency from being required to perform, assist, consent to, refer, or participate in any child placement for foster care or adoption that would violate the agency's written religious or moral convictions.” The council feels the legislation could have a negative impact on businesses in the state, potentially sparking boycotts and hampering economic growth.

read more »

U.S. House Hears Testimony Regarding Unfair Housing Practices for Same-sex Couples

The U.S. House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday considered evidence regarding claims of discrimination involving same-sex couples who encounter more denials and higher interest rates when applying for mortgages, the Washington Blade reports. The committee heard testimony that LGBT adults are twice as likely as their non-LGBT counterparts to report having been denied housing, and that same-sex couples experience about three to eight percent lower approval rates in acquiring loans than same-sex couples. This hearing is part of a push for passage of the Equality Act, which passed the House in May. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has refused to advance the legislation for a vote in that chamber.

read more »

Comcast Exec. Files Federal Lawsuit Over Title VII Protections

A senior executive at Comcast Corp. recently filed a federal lawsuit alleging he was routinely discriminated against because of his sexual orientation, NBC News reports. Plaintiff Klayton Fennell claims that while employed with the company he was denied equal pay, passed over for promotions, was subjected to slurs from employees and retaliated against after he filed a discrimination complaint. Comcast claims that it was supportive of Fennell’s participation in LGBTQ initiatives both inside and outside of the company, and that it has a “longstanding commitment to the LGBTQ community and has been widely recognized for its inclusive culture.” Fennell is seeking unspecified damages for pain and suffering, emotional upset, mental anguish, humiliation, loss of life’s pleasures and any other remedies provided by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

read more »

St. Louis Police Sergeant Awarded Nearly $20 Million for Discrimination Based on Sexual Identity

A jury in St. Louis last week awarded a gay police sergeant nearly $20 million regarding claims of discrimination based on sexual orientation, The New York Times reports. Plaintiff Keith Wildhaber filed the complaint after he applied for a move from sergeant to lieutenant at the St. Louis County Police Department and was allegedly told he was “way too out there with his gayness” and “needed to tone it down” if he wanted the promotion. Wildhaber said that this was not the only instance of discrimination, claiming he was turned down for 23 promotions over the course of five and a half years. The jury foreman said of the judgment: “We wanted to send a message…If you discriminate, you are going to pay a big price.”

read more »

Family, Classmates Call for Prosecution of Cyberbullying That Drove Coffee County Teen to Suicide

The suicide of a 16-year-old who was outed online is reigniting concerns over cyberbullying and has led a call for the prosecution of those involved in the incident, the New York Times reports. Channing Smith, a junior at Coffee County Central High School, took his own life after sexually explicit text messages shared with a male classmate were revealed on social media. Coffee County District Attorney Craig Northcott — who reportedly is under investigation by the Board of Professional Responsibility after previously saying he wouldn't prosecute domestic violence cases involving same-sex couples — said his office has encouraged, cooperated in and supported the investigation, and that “when all relevant facts are available, my office will advise the Coffee County Sheriff’s Department on what charges, if any, we believe are appropriate to help guide it in that decision.”

read more »

New York City Council Considers Repeal of Conversion Therapy Ban

The New York City Council is considering a repeal of its 2017 law banning conversion therapy, the strongly-condemned practice of attempting to change a person's sexual orientation or gender, NPR reports. The move comes in response to a lawsuit brought against the city by Alliance Defending Freedom, a national group that regularly challenges abortion laws and LGBT protections on freedom of speech and religious grounds. LGBT advocacy groups and council members that support repealing the ban argue the change will not result in any erosion of protections for LGBT New Yorkers and will halt the lawsuit. Those supporting the reversal say that defending against the suit would be a waste of the city’s time and resources and could have national impacts if the courts side against the city. The proposal to repeal the ban was introduced by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who is gay. Johnson said regarding the repeal: "I really struggled with it because I don't want to look like we're retreating in the face of an organization that brought this lawsuit that has been deemed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center … Ultimately, I think this is the responsible, strategic and right thing to do."

read more »

Openly Gay Prosecutor Nominated as Judge for U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

President Trump last week announced the nomination of an openly gay candidate to preside over the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Boston Globe reports. Patrick J. Bumatay is a federal prosecutor and Harvard Law alumnus who has reportedly served as Counselor to the Attorney General on various criminal issues, including the national opioid strategy and transnational organized crime. The Federalist has described Bumatay as “an originalist in the mold of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.” If confirmed, he would be the first Filipino-American federal judge and the second openly gay federal judge, the first on the Ninth Circuit. 

read more »

U.S. Supreme Court to Consider National Workplace Protections Regarding Sexual Orientation

The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 8 will consider whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 guarantees federal protection from workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, The New York Times reports. The case under consideration — Gerald Lynn Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia — centers around a man who was a county Child Welfare Services Coordinator and claims he was fired after he joined a gay recreational softball league, despite 10 years of employment and receiving positive performance evaluations and professional accolades. The defendant argues that his termination was due to “conduct unbecoming of a Clayton County employee;” however, Bostock maintains that several other employees had made critical comments regarding his sexual orientation and that the defendant conceded to him that he was fired because of sexual orientation. You can view the Petition for Writ of Certiorari using this link.

read more »