Patrick’s Cabaret, a queer-led Twin Cities art organization, settled with the Laura Jane Musser Fund after Patrick’s Cabaret filed a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights alleging anti-LGBTQ discrimination. The announcement was made last week.

The cabaret filed a complaint with the Department of Human Rights in late-2016 after the fund denied the cabaret’s grant request, in part, on grounds that the fund doesn’t fund LGBTQ causes.

Patrick’s sought a Intercultural Harmony grant from the Musser Fund in 2015, and when the group was denied, executive director Scott Artley asked for constructive feedback on the application. The program manager at the Musser Fund left him a voicemail:

What I want to tell you about Patrick’s Cabaret and being turned down with the Intercultural Harmony work, is a couple things. One is this is a pretty conservative board and they have grappled with the, whether they want to consider GLBT issues as something that they want to address with Intercultural Harmony and while it’s a moving conversation, it has not settled on it being inclusive to that. And so you may be throwing good energy against a brick wall in applying if your Intercultural Harmony work is addressing GLBT issues.

Patrick’s filed a complaint with the Department of Human Rights which alleged that the Musser Fund “refused to accept its proposal and provide funding because [Patrick’s Cabaret] is associated with the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community.”

The Musser fund denied liability but both parties agreed to mediation. The result of that mediation was announced in early August.

According to the terms of the settlement, the Musser Fund will adopt a nondiscrimination policy, adopt giving standards that focus on diversity, and will make a one-time settlement payment to Patrick’s Cabaret of $12,000.

“The Musser Fund made no omission of any liability that their grant decisions were based on any discriminatory factors,” Neal T. Buethe, Musser fund attorney told the Star Tribune. “We did settle the case because we tried to make it a positive and made sure diversity is built into the grant application process and ensure that Musser Fund is responsive to the concerns this charge embodied.”

Patrick’s Cabaret intends to use the settlement payment to cover costs associated with the human rights complaint and put the remaining funds toward supporting artists.

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Andy Birkey
Andy Birkey has written for a number of Minnesota and national publications. He founded Eleventh Avenue South which ran from 2002-2011, wrote for the Minnesota Independent from 2006-2011, the American Independent from 2010-2013. His writing has appeared in The Advocate, The Star Tribune, The Huffington Post, Salon, Cagle News Service, Twin Cities Daily Planet, TheUptake, Vita.mn and much more. His writing on LGBT issues, the religious right and social justice has won awards including Best Beat Reporting by the Online News Association, Best Series by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and an honorable mention by the Sex-Positive Journalism awards.

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