Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center v. Bahruth

Summary

The Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center provides educational forums, support and counseling groups, advocacy and publications to the Hudson Valley LGBTQ community. Although the Center's activities entitle it to exemption from taxes under the New York Real Property Tax Law, Kingston's assessor denied the Center's application, claiming that the Center does not warrant exemption. The Center's appeal to the Board of Assessment Review was then denied. The Center is run completely by volunteers who work hard to provide these services to the LGBTQ community and the community at large. But now the Center is faced with a discriminatory tax bill for almost $9,000.

Context

New York provides tax exemption for property used by not-for-profit corporations for purposes that are charitable, educational or for moral or mental improvement. Courts recognized more than a decade ago that these objectives are fulfilled by activities that combat homophobia, provide support to members of the LGBT community and educate the public about LGBTQ and HIV issues.

Lambda Legal's Impact

The fight for tax exemption is another battle that the LGBTQ community must go through to prove we serve worthy, charitable and societal goals. Denial of tax exemption undermines an organization financially and socially — a decided blow to the LGBTQ communities that receive help and support from such organizations. Lambda Legal continues to fight for the proper recognition of organizations like the Center, much like we did in 1971 to receive approval of our own not-for-profit status.

History

  • September 2007 Lambda Legal, the Workers' Rights Law Center of New York, Inc. and Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver and Jacobson LLP file suit in Ulster County Court of New York.

Case Information

Status: Closed

Plaintiffs

Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center, Inc., Virginia “Ginny” Apuzzo, President

Attorneys

Lambda Legal
Thomas W. Ude, Jr., Susan Sommer

Co-counsel/Cooperating Attorneys
Janice Mac Avoy, Esq., Jennifer L. Colyer, Esq., Ron Lazebnik, Esq., Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver and Jacobson LLP, Patricia C. Kakalec, Esq., Executive Director Workers’ Rights Law Center of New York, Inc.