A slow response to a Freedom of Information Act request has lead the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center to sue the Internal Revenue Service.   The center said that the documents requested in March 2005 are related to the rejection of its application for non-profit status in the early 1970s. In the court filing, the center accuses the IRS of attempting to “cover up its misconduct,” while chief executive Lorri Jean has said members are interested in reviewing the documents as a historical exercise.   In October 2005, the center said it had received a written response to its information request from the IRS, which said that the documents had been located and were being reviewed by the IRS Office of Collection Policy. Since then, the center has not received any updates on its request.   According to the center, then operating as the "Gay Community Services Center," it was the first organization with the word "gay" in its name to apply for non-profit status from the federal government. That application was rejected on the grounds that the center was not "organized and operated exclusively for charitable and educational purposes."   Following several appeals, the IRS eventually awarded the center non-profit standing in August 1974, but included a number of caveats -- including that the center would not "contend that homosexuality is normal" and that the center's officers and directors not be “avowed homosexuals."   Among the documents requested on behalf of the center are all records analyzing, discussing or considering its original 501(c)(3) application; a copy of the original IRS denial letter; all records in conjunction with the original denial letter; and all records in conjunction with the later IRS approval letter.   The lawsuit requests that the court order the IRS to produce the requested records, provide a detailed explanation of why the requested documents were withheld and reimburse the center for its legal fees.

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