Los Angeles Black Lesbian Firefighter Discrimination Suit Pending Against City
The Los Angeles city attorney’s office is considering an appeal after a jury awarded a former fighter $1.7 million in gay discrimination lawsuit suit.
Lewis Bressler sued the city claiming he had been forced to retire two years ago after he came to the defense of a lesbian firefighter.
Brenda Lee filed a discrimination case in 2001 and later a lawsuit alleging she had been the victim of homophobic bias on the job. Bressler and another firefighter, Gary Mellinger, supported her claim.
All three at the time worked at the same fire station.
Bressler claimed he had been pushed out of the fire department for supporting Lee and the jury agreed with him. The jury, however, dismissed a second allegation in the suit – that he was the victim of age discrimination. He was 65 when he went into retirement.
”The city attorney’s office is disappointed in the verdict, and we’re reviewing the trial records and considering our options,” city attorney’s office spokesperson Nick Velasquez said.
Lee’s discrimination suit against the city is pending trial.
Mellinger settled his lawsuit last year for $350,000.
Black Gay Men’s Caucus aims to raise visibility with lawmakers
“We have got to know our worth,” said Michael O’Connor of the Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus, discussing his organization’s work to find funding for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care.
“We have individuals in our community who look like us, who have sex like us, (do) not understand that we are best friends, that we pay taxes in this city, and this state, and we deserve part of (those resources),” he continued.
O’Connor, who works on CBGMC’s Public Policy and Advocacy Sub-Committee, was speaking at a gathering of the Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus March 29 at the Chicago Department of Public Health Training Center. This was the first meeting of the full caucus since a restructuring this past December.
Besides public policy and advocacy, CBGMC has organized subcommittees for outreach, development, youth, membership and faith-based organizations.
Much of the March 29 meeting focused on how CBGMC needs can get the attention of lawmakers at a time when state and city governments are strapped for cash and financial resources for HIV/AIDS are in short supply.
“What we have decided to do was to was what everybody else in this city and this state does, and that is to organize and know our worth,” O’Connor said, citing as an example their caucusing for the Quality of Life legislation sponsored by Rep. Karen Yarbrough (D-Broadview) and Sen.
Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago). The legislation provides for a lottery scratch-off card that will provide revenue for HIV/AIDS prevention and education.
O’Connor called upon CBGMC members to continue participating in lobbying efforts of the community’s behalf.
Extensive discussion of CBGMC’s relationship to other community organizations, and the City of Chicago, followed when activist Marc Loveless voiced his concern that CBGMC’s caucusing in Springfield might have been muted by members involved with other organizations who technically could not lobby on CBGMC’s behalf.
Many participants disagreed. CBGMC Co-Chair Kevin Tindell said that the group understood ahead of time that some members were present at lobby day only in an advisory capacity to the organization and could not technically represent it, and said that he was satisfied that enough people were there solely representing the organization’s interests.
“This was our first attempt. We may get better at it in the future,” Tindell said.
©Chicago Free Press 2007-04-17
After six consecutive sold-out performances in February and March, the incomparable Jenifer Lewis is reprising her acclaimed one-woman show, Bipolar, Bath & Beyond , at the Renberg Theatre for three nights only in May.
“I had to come back because I love looking through a packed theater to find the one straight man in the house,” Lewis jokes about returning to the Renberg.
“Seriously, I’m coming back because I fully support the work the Center does for homeless youth.”
Lewis will be performing May 12, 19 and 26 at 8 p.m.. Tickets are $25, and all proceeds benefit the Center. Click here for tickets or call 323-860-7300