Elderly lesbian gains victory against retirement home for harassment

Elderly lesbian Marsha Wetzel

An elderly woman said she was harassed and discriminated against at her retirement home in Illinois for being a lesbian. On Monday (28 August), a US appeals court granted her a crucial victory.

Marsha Wetzel moved into Glen St. Andrew Living Community in Niles, right outside of Chicago, after her longtime partner passed away.

While residing there, she said she faced terrible homophobic abuse, including residents yelling slurs at her and spitting on her.

In another incident, Wetzel alleged one resident rammed into her scooter and toppled it over. She said she fell and bruised her arm.

Wetzel sued in 2016, claiming the retirement home did nothing to stop the harassment and they also retaliated against her. Last year, a federal judge dismissed her lawsuit against the community.

A trio of judges from the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, however, overturned that ruling. They determined the operators of Glen St. Andrew could be responsibile for housing discrimination and sent the case back to trial.

An even bigger victory looms

Chief Judge Diane Wood wrote of the case: ‘Not only does it (the Fair Housing Act) create liability when a landlord intentionally discriminates against a tenant based on a protected characteristic; it also creates liability against a landlord that has actual notice of tenant-on-tenant harassment … yet chooses not to take any reasonable steps within its control to stop that harassment.’

Should the trial case find in Wetzel’s favor, it will be a victory not only for her, but the LGBTI community at large, and especially senior citizens.

‘She, just like all people living in rental housing, whether LGBT or not, should be assured that they will at least be safe from discriminatory harassment in their own homes,’ said Lambda Legal senior counsel Karen Loewy of Wetzel.

Glen St. Andrew continues to deny the reports.

‘At this stage, the court was required to assume the factual allegations of plaintiff’s complaint were true for purposes of determining the legal issues,’ they said in a statement. ‘Glen St. Andrew strongly denies the factual allegations of the complaint and will present its case in court at the appropriate time.’

H/t: Chicago Tribune

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Laura Ricketts, Gay Cubs Owner, Says Daniel Murphy Trade Took Place After ‘Thoughtful Conversations’ About His Homophobic Views

Laura Ricketts, the first openly gay (co-)owner of a Major League Baseball team (with her family), tweeted over the weekend that she, her brothers, and Cubs executives, okayed the acquisition of Daniel Murphy after “considered and thoughtful conversations” about his homophobic views.

Murphy, who has never changed his view that he “disagrees with the (gay) lifestyle, 100 percent,” was traded to the Cubs last week just five days before “Out at Wrigley,” the franchise’s long-running LGBTQ Pride night.

Tweeted Ricketts: “Since several people have asked…yes, I was consulted prior to the Daniel Murphy trade. There were several thoughtful conversations among Cubs executives, my brothers and me, as well as with Billy Bean, MLB’s Ambassador for Inclusion and the subject of Daniel’s 2015 comments. I know Billy and have immense respect for him and his work with the league. Billy, who has since developed a friendship with Daniel, was very positive and encouraging. After these considered and thoughtful conversations, which took place precisely because of the Cubs’ sensitivities on the matter, I was on board with the trade.”

The post Laura Ricketts, Gay Cubs Owner, Says Daniel Murphy Trade Took Place After ‘Thoughtful Conversations’ About His Homophobic Views appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.

Trump’s first LGBTI judge pick breezes through her confirmation hearing


President Donald Trump’s first openly LGBTI pick for the judiciary had a ‘breezy’ hearing to confirm her nomination.

In her first hearing, Judge Mary Rowland enjoyed bipartisan support from the Senate Judiciary Committee as Trump’s nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Rowland has served as a federal magistrate judge in Illinois for six years. Prior to this she spent 12 years in private practice and 10 years in the Chicago federal defenders office, The Washington Blade reported.

The bipartisan support for Rowland is something of a rarity for the current administration, where presidential nominations have often been polarising.

Annise Parker, CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Institute, voiced her support of Rowland’s nomination while drawing attention to president’s past nominees, many of whom have chequered histories with regards to LGBTI rights.

‘Mary Rowland is well-respected by the LGBTQ community in Illinois and we are pleased that someone with her experience and integrity was nominated,’ Parker said

‘Judge Rowland is President Trump’s first openly LGBTQ judicial nominee out of the approximately 140 he’s put forward – depriving the bench of talented LGBTQ justices in favor of judges with strong anti-LGBTQ records. Mary is a bright exception to this unfortunate pattern – and we are proud to support her,’ Parker said.

High praise

During the hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Rowland was praised for her legal background and her work within the LGBTI community.

Two senators from Rowland’s home-state of Illinois – Richard Durbin, who is a member of the committee, and Tammy Duckworth, who introduced Rowland – offered particularly high praise of the judge.

Duckworth said Rowland’s ‘reputation in the legal community is impeccable’ and those who know or had worked with her ‘commend her good temperament, intelligence, and fairness.’

Duckworth also drew attention to Rowland’s work with the LGBTI legal community, such as being a member of the Lesbian & Gay Bar Association of Chicago and conducting pro bono work for Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund.

Rowland and her wife, Julie Justicz, have two adult children together.

First LGBTI judicial nomination

President Trump picked Rowland for a seat as a district judge in June.

So far, she is the only LGBTI choice from some 140 fellow judicial nominations made by the current administration.

In comparison, during the presidency of Barak Obama, the number of LGBTI judges skyrocketed.

Obama presided over the nomination of 11 LGBTI judges, and is often credited with having the most diverse selections of judicial nominations in US history.