Gay firefighter forced to retire after marrying boyfriend, lawsuit claims
A Norfolk firefighter says he was forced off of the force after his employers found out he was gay.
In October 2014, Scott Phillips-Gartner married his longtime boyfriend. According to The Virginian-Pilot, he claims that when his department found out, they stripped him of his rank and relocated his responsibilities out of a temporary facility “with little to no job duties” miles from his office.
Phillips-Gartner began his career with Norfolk Fire-Rescue as a 911 operator, eventually becoming an assistant fire marshall and a bomb squad technician. He is now suing the department, accusing them of creating a hostile work environment.
“It was humiliating.”
The 55-year-old firefighter, whose suit maintains he was well-regarded by both superiors and colleagues until he’d informed HR he’d gotten married, retired earlier this year after receiving threats that he’d be fired if he didn’t. His attorney, Barry Montgomery, has said that this was not the way his client wanted to leave. “It was humiliating,” Montgomery added.
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The suit notes that Battalion Chief Roger Burris mocked Phillips-Gartner throughout 2015, regularly treating him as less than favourably compared to his heterosexual counterparts. In a December staff meeting of that year, Burris “attacked Gartner’s sexuality” by asking “Where is Ms. Gartner?”
His suit alleges, as well, that the city discriminated against him on the basis of gender, claiming that what happened to him would not have happened to a woman who’d married a man. He also claims his employers “retaliated against him for complaining to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.”
The city of Norfolk, in 2016, put into place policies that “prohibit employees, contractors and volunteers from discriminating against a person because of his or her sexual orientation, among other things.”
City officials in Norfolk declined to comment to The Virginian-Pilot on the suit or story.
OMFGay readers: What are your thoughts on the story and lawsuit? Leave your opinions in the comments below.
Just 55% of Americans believe LGBTQ people “face a lot of discrimination”
With rising support for marriage equality and the LGBTQ community comes a bit of a distorted view on the issues of discrimination those within the community still face.
According to a new report from FiveThirtyEight, “only 55 percent of Americans believe that gay and lesbian people face a lot of discrimination in the U.S., down from 68 percent in 2013.”
But those numbers may be skewed, depending on how the person responding is surveyed. According to the same article, a 2014 report “found that Americans were 14 points less likely to say gays and lesbians experience a lot of discrimination when responding to an online survey than when a pollster called them.”
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What’s more, an increasing number of Americans seem to be believing the idea that fighting for LGBTQ rights is largely unnecessary. A 2017 Gallup survey found that 46 percent of people do not think “news (sic) civil rights laws are needed to reduce discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people.” A 2018 survey from PRRI revealed that 49 percent believe the U.S. “has made the changes needed to give gay and lesbian people equal fights with other Americans.”
It’s nice that people believe LGBT citizens have been given the rights to make them equal with other Americans, but it’s simply not the case, especially when you consider that new rights don’t always mean increased acceptance. In fact, anti-LGBTQ hate crimes rose 3 percent in 2017, according to the FBI. Of the 1,470 victims who “were involved in 1,249 separate bias incidents,” close to 60 percent were against gay men and 25 percent were against “a mix of LGBTQ people.”
The number of hate crimes in the U.S. against those in the LGBTQ community has increased every year since 2014.
This article was originally published March 21, 2019.
Alex Landi, our new TV crush, is presenting at the GLAAD Media Awards
My new obsession, Grey’s Anatomy‘s Alex Landi, who plays Dr. Nico Kim on the hit ABC series and who also plays the perfect shirtless husband in my dreams, is set to present at this year’s 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards.
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The 26-year-old actor shared the new via his personal Instagram Stories:
Alex Landi will present and Lizzo will perform at this year’s GLAAD Media Awards
Landi will be in good company during the March 28th ceremony, with stars like Hayley Kiyoko, Lena Waithe, Janet Mock, Barbara Corcoran, Olivia Munn, Meghan Trainor, Adam Rippon, and even Landi’s Grey’s co-star, Jake Borelli (Schmico!). Hip-hop artist Lizzo is set to perform.
Grey’s Anatomy ship Schmico at the GLAAD Media Awards together?
Will & Grace star Sean Hayes will be presented with the Stephen F. Kolzak Award “for his work in promoting and forwarding LGBTQ culture.” Power couple Beyoncé and Jay-Z will receive the Vanguard Award “for their continued work as allies for the LGBTQ community.”
The GLAAD Media Awards “recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community and the issues that affect their lives.” This year’s ceremony will be held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
Disney is holding its first official LGBTQ Pride event
Even Disneyland is getting a bit more
The iconic company is calling it “Magical Pride” and the event date will coincide, of course, with the start of Pride Month.
The event will feature a “Magical March of Diversity Parade,” as well as live-music and themed photo locations.
“Magical Pride” has been an unofficial event at Disneyland Paris since 2014, organized by independent groups. The 2019 event will be the park’s first time hosting officially.
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In 1991, Disney World theme park in Florida hosted an official LGBTQ Pride event, attended by 3,000 gays and lesbians.
Though Disney received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for businesses with pro-LGBTQ employee policies for 12 years in a row, the company has made a slow (though worth mentioning) start to including LGBTQ characters and storylines in their media.
The upcoming Disney film, Jungle Cruise, will feature the company’s first openly gay character to appear in a live-action feature. And despite this positive step forward, the announcement drew criticism because the actor cast in the role, Jack Whitehall, is a straight man, and the character itself will perpetuate certain gay stereotypes.
Good Luck Charlie was their first live-action sitcom series to feature a lesbian couple, back in 2014, while Andi Mack was the first live-action series to feature an openly LGBTQ recurring character.
You can book “Magical Pride” tickets now with Greatdays Holidays.
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