Lambda Legal Represents Not-for-Profit Hudson Valley LGBTQ Center in Fight Against City of Kingston's Discriminatory Tax
(New York, October 1, 2007) — Lambda Legal and Workers' Rights Law Center of New York are representing the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center to secure exemption from real property taxes after its application was wrongfully denied by the City of Kingston, New York.
"Time and again organizations for the LGBT community have had to fight to prove they serve worthy charitable and societal goals. History repeats itself in Kingston, New York," said Tom Ude, Jr., Senior Staff Attorney at Lambda Legal. "Denying the Center property tax exemption is against the law and belittles the Center's value and mission."
The Center offers educational forums, support and counseling groups, and publications for the Hudson Valley LGBTQ community. Although what it does squarely entitles it to non-profit property tax exemption under New York Real Property Tax Law, in March 2007 Kingston's assessor denied its application, claiming that the Center does not warrant exemption. The Center appealed to the Board of Assessment Review, providing documentation that summarized its activities. The appeal was denied, leaving the Center with a bruising tax bill.
Ginny Apuzzo, the President of the Board of Directors for the Center and a long-time civil rights leader, said, "We are a non-profit organization run completely by volunteers providing educational and social services to the LGBT community. For our efforts, we now have a discriminatory tax bill for almost $9000. This fight for tax exemption is just another example of how our community is constantly fighting for its very existence."
"It is important for us to be involved with this case because if illegal discrimination is ignored anywhere, then anti-equality forces everywhere — including in the workplace — will feel empowered to disregard the law," says Tricia Kakalec, Executive Director of Worker's Rights Law Center of New York.
Thomas Ude, Jr., Senior Staff Attorney and Susan Sommer, Senior Counsel in Lambda Legal's Headquarters in New York are handling the case. They are joined by Patricia Kakalec, Executive Director of the Workers Rights Law Center of New York, Inc. and Attorneys Janice Mac Avoy, Jennifer Colyer and Ron Lazebnik of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver and Jacobson LLP in New York.
The case is Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center v. Bahruth.
Contact: Erin Baer 212.809.8585 ext 267; Email: [email protected]
The Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center was founded in 2005 to support and nurture the LGBTQ community in the Hudson Valley. Since that time, the Center has attracted more than 1100 dues-paying members, purchased a landmark 6,000 square foot building in the historic district of uptown Kingston, and is creating programs to empower the LGBTQ community to achieve their maximum potential.