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Lawsuit not over for ousted Ga. student council prez who wanted gay-inclusive prom

Reuben Lack, his father and attorney

A federal judged ruled Monday against an Alpharetta High School student's claim that he was sacked from his student council position after introducing an LGBT-friendly prom resolution. While the decision means Reuben Lack won’t get his leadership role back, his father stressed that the lawsuit against the Fulton County School District isn’t over.

Reuben Lack, 18, claimed in a federal lawsuit filed in March that he was removed from his position as the school's student body president after introducing a resolution during a February student council meeting that would have made the school's annual prom more inclusive to LGBT students by removing the prom “king” and “queen” titles and replacing them with more gender-neutral titles.

The school district, however, responded by saying Lack's removal had nothing to do with the prom resolution, and claimed that he was removed for canceling and rescheduling student council meetings with little or no notice, acting uncivilly and refusing to comply with direct instructions from the student council faculty advisers.

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Federal appeals court upholds former Grady doctor’s conviction on sex charges

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the 320-month prison sentence against former Grady Memorial Hospital emergency room physician Adam Wayne Lebowitz, according to a story in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Lebowitz, who is gay and HIV positive, was an Emory medical student when he worked at Grady Memorial. He was arrested, charged and convicted for coercing a minor to engage in sexual acts. He also produced child pornography.

Lebowitz was arrested after an undercover sting operation that included a 15-year old boy who worked with Coweta County law enforcement.

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YouthPride Executive Director Terence McPhaul seeks millions in string of lawsuits

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YouthPride Executive Director Terence McPhaul is no stranger to lawsuits. Since becoming executive director of YouthPride in June 2009, he has personally filed three lawsuits handled in federal court — including one showing that he began searching for other jobs within months of taking the helm of the youth group.

Like McPhaul’s recent lawsuit in Fulton County against a car dealership, the federal lawsuits are all filed “pro se,” or with McPhaul representing himself instead of having an attorney. The lawsuits are filed on behalf of McPhaul as an individual, not as a representative of YouthPride. One remains pending.

Court records show McPhaul has filed six lawsuits handled by the federal court system since 1994, all representing himself without an attorney. Defendants include at least four of his previous employers, including three prominent Atlanta nonprofits: AID Atlanta, National AIDS Education & Services for Minorities, and St. Joseph’s Mercy Care.

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HIV-positive man who sued city of Atlanta over police job gets new day in court

The case of a 40-year old man who was denied employment with the Atlanta Police Department over his positive HIV status will return to a U.S. District Court after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit sent the case back to the lower court to resolve unaddressed issues.

The man, identified as by the pseudonym “Richard Roe,” first applied to the APD in early 2006, but was denied employment due to his HIV status. Roe claims the department called him a “direct threat” to the safety of others.

Roe was represented by attorneys with Lambda Legal, a nonprofit group that works on LGBT and HIV issues. Lambda argued the case before the appeals panel on Jan. 25 in Atlanta.

"This is a great victory for Lambda Legal's client who will now get his chance in court to show how the APD's refusal to hire him was discriminatory and illegal," Scott Schoettes, Lambda Legal's HIV project director, said in a press release this afternoon.

"Before the appellate court, the City of Atlanta admitted that there are already HIV-positive police officers serving on the force; now they need to explain why our client should be treated any differently," Schoettes said.

In an unpublished opinion released today, the three-judge appeals court panel found that the district court erred in siding with the city that Roe had not established he is qualified to be a police officer. “Unpublished” means the opinion is not binding precedent, according to the appeals court web site.

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A new day in court

HIV-positive man who sued city of Atlanta over police job returns to district court

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Federal appeals court upholds expulsion of anti-gay Ga. college student

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday upheld a lower court's ruling that an Augusta State University student should be expelled from the school's counseling program because her anti-gay beliefs went against the ethical guidelines for being a school counselor.

Jennifer Keeton, who describes herself as a Christian and was attending ASU to become a school counselor for grades K-12, sued the university after professors recommended she undertake a remediation plan as a way to teach her more about LGBT issues. The plan included attending workshops on LGBT issues as well as attending Augusta Pride.

Keeton is represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, an organization dedicated to defending "traditional family values." In her lawsuit, Keeton claimed her First Amendment rights were violated by the university because it stated her biblical opposition to homosexuality — that she would state in class and to other students — went against the professional code for being an ethical counselor.

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[Video] Federal appeals court offers hope in Ga. transgender woman’s job bias lawsuit

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Three judges sitting on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals today appeared to side with transgender woman Vandy Beth Glenn, who was fired from her job as a legislative editor for the Georgia General Assembly after she informed her boss she was transitioning full-time to a woman.

"We have direct evidence of intentional discrimination," said Judge Bill Pryor.

Richard Sheinis, representing the state, argued that if Glenn was to win this case, transgender people would become a "protected class."

"That's right," Pryor and Judge Rosemary Barkett answered, almost simultaneously.

Pryor told Sheinis if he wanted to change the outcome, he should "go talk to Congress."

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U.S. Court of Appeals to hear arguments in Ga. transgender woman’s employment discrimination case

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit will hear arguments in the federal discrimination lawsuit filed by a Georgia transgender woman who was fired from her state job after informing her employer she was transitioning from male to female.

Vandy Beth Glenn, represented by nonprofit LGBT legal organization Lambda Legal, sued the state of Georgia after she was fired in 2007 as a legislative editor for the Georgia General Assembly.

In July 2010 a federal judge ruled the state illegally discriminated against Glenn and in August the judge ordered she be reinstated back to her job. During the appeals process, however, Glenn has been receiving her 2007 salary but has not been able to return to her job.

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Religion blog: Reflections on Troy Davis

A few years back, there was a TV show called “In the Heat of the Night.”  It was a spin-off of the movie by the same name. The series starred Carroll O'Connor as Chief William O. 'Bill' Gillespie and Howard E. Rollins Jr. as Chief of Detectives Virgil Tibbs.

The events of last week (the execution of Troy Davis) have unsettled me in a way I did not think was possible.

In one of the shows entitled; “A Trip Upstate” (1989) George Brownlow sends word to Bill Gillespie that he wants to see the Chief at Parchman prison on the day of his execution. George was the driver in a bank holdup. Two bank robbers killed a guard and a customer before Bill killed them in return. As an accomplice, George was sentenced to die.

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DADT stay lifted by federal appeals court

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today issued a ruling today which effectively halted the enforcement of the military's “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy. The three-judge panel previously blocked an order from Federal Judge Virginia Phillips in 2010 after her ruling in the case Log Cabin Republicans vs. United States found the policy to be unconstitutional.

A stay was issued to allow the policy to remain in place while the repeal made its way through Congress, but the three-judge panel said today that “The circumstances and balance ofhardships have changed, and appellants/cross-appellees can no longer satisfy the demanding standard for issuance of a stay.”

The law, commonly known as DADT, was repealed during the final days of the 111th Congress, though service members must wait for the president, the head of the Department of Defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs to certify repeal before gay and lesbian soldiers can begin to serve openly.

The armed services are currently in the process of training soldiers and other personnel for the change in policy and are expected to have all service members trained by mid-summer.