New bill in TX legislature would allow teachers to shoot students

Posted on 29 Jan 2015 at 1:48pm

gun-crazy-movie-poster-1949-1020142772A bill introduced in the new Texas legislature would protect teachers who shoot and kill their students.

Teachers in Texas are already allowed to carry guns in classrooms. The intent of that law was to stop a deadly massacre like the one in Newtown, Conn.

Now, Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Van, filed H.B. 868 —dubbed the Teacher’s Protection Act — that would allow teachers to turn their guns on their students and not face prosecution. Not only would teachers be able to shoot a student to protect themselves or others, but also to protect school property.

The Association of Texas Professional Educators said it believes this should be determined at a local level. In other words, it’s OK to kill students, but local school boards should give the green light, not the Legislature.

Current Texas law allows teachers to use reasonable force against a student and avoid prosecution.

A bill Flynn previously wrote reduced the number of training hours required to obtain a concealed handgun license.

Our recommendation would be for teachers to engage their students like Scot Pankey rather than shoot them.

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BREAKING NEWS: FW extends benefits to same-sex spouses of employees

Posted on 28 Jan 2015 at 3:45pm

Fort Worth city officials have just announced, via their city employee newsletter The Roundup, that the city will be extending spousal benefits to Screen shot 2015-01-28 at 3.44.32 PMlegally married same-sex spouses of city employees, beginning Sunday, Feb. 1.

The determination on which same-sex couples are eligible will be based on where they were married, not where they live — the same criteria used for federal income taxes, as per the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in DOJ v Windsor.

“This change will allow the city to follow the IRS’s definition of ‘spouse’ as defined for federal income taxes in the granting of survivor benefits,” the article in the newsletter notes.

It continues: “Since the city’s retirement ordinance does not specifically define ‘spouse,’ surviving spouses in a same-sex marriage will be eligible for survivor benefits if the survivor can prove, through documentation, that they were legally married to the employee/retiree in a state where same-sex marriage is legally recognized.”

As of Feb. 1, a 75 percent survivor benefit will be available to the following eligible same-sex spouses married at least one year prior to the employee’s retirement in the following groups: General employees hired prior to July 1, 2011; Police officers hired prior to Jan. 1, 2013; Firefighters hired prior to Jan. 10, 2015.”

Eligible members who retire on or after Feb. 1 will be eligible for the survivor benefit without a reduction in their pension benefits. Eligible members currently received a reduced benefit to provide for a legal same-sex spouse will have their benefit restored, without back pay, beginning Feb. 1. (All based on them providing proper documentation, of course).

Any retiree who did not take a benefit reduction when they retired to fund a survivor benefit, but who was legally married to their spouse for at least one year prior to their retirement from the city, cab notify the fund of their designation of a spouse as their survivor and submit the required documentation.

Those hired after the specified dates have to take a reduction in pension benefits when they retire to be able to provide a survivor benefit to the person they designate.

All employees, no matter when they were hired, are eligible for a 75 percent spousal survivor benefit if they are vested and die while actively employed. The policy change means that as of Feb. 1, that also applies to same-sex spouses.

Watch for more complete coverage in the Jan. 30 issue of Dallas Voice.

 

 

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Trans woman murdered in Tyler

Posted on 28 Jan 2015 at 12:39pm
Underwood.Ty

Ty Underwood

Transgender woman Ty Underwood, 24, was shot to death in Tyler on Monday, Jan. 26.

Tyler detectives have a few leads, but nothing substantial, they told KYTZ, the local CBS affiliate.

Police believe shots were fired at Underwood’s car. They said she tried to drive off but got stuck in a grassy area and hit a telephone pole. The murder took place on Twenty-Fourth Street in North Tyler.

Friends, including Underwood’s roommate, are calling this a hate crime. The detective on the case called it a “senseless murder.”

Underwood worked in a nursing home and was recently accepted in nursing school, according the ABC affiliate KLTV.

In 1993, Nicholas West was murdered in a city park in Tyler. That investigation was the first time a hate crime against a gay victim was taken seriously by police in Texas.

Anyone with information should contact Tyler Police Department at (903) 531-1000 or Tyler-Smith County Crime Stoppers at (903) 597-2833.

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Alabama Supreme Court chief justice pledges to refuse the tyranny of SCOTUS

Posted on 28 Jan 2015 at 12:38pm

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore this week issued a declaration pledging to ignore any federal court rulings on marriage equality — including rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court — that he doesn’t like. The statement came after U.S. District Judge Callie Granade (appointed by President George W. Bush, by the way), ruled in favor of marriage equality in two separate cases since last Friday, Jan. 23.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy MooreMoore calls such rulings “tyranny.”

TheNewCivilRightsMovement.com reports that in a letter addressed to Alabama Republican Gov. Robert Bently, Moore wrote: “As Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, I will continue to recognize the Alabama Constitution and the will of the people overwhelmingly expressed in the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment. If we are to preserve that ‘reverent morality which is our source of all beneficent progress in social and political improvement,’ then we must act to oppose such tyranny!”

Moore claimed that the institution of marriage is being destroyed by “federal courts using specious pretexts based on the Equal Protection, Due Process and Full Faith and Credit Clauses of the United States Constitution.” He also advised the governor that issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples “would be in defiance of the laws and Constitution of Alabama,” and claimed that Alabama is not bound by decisions of federal district or appellate courts.

Sounds like Chief Justice Moore attended the Mike Huckabee School of Law. But the Alabama Republican might want to take a refresher course on exactly how this whole state/federal/constitution/supreme court thing actually works, focusing especially on the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause.

But then, I guess we really can’t expect all that much from Republican Chief Justice Moore. After all, he is the same man who was removed by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary from his seat as Alabama’s chief justice in 2003 when he refused to remove a stone monument of the 10 Commandments from the Alabama judicial building. The fine people of the state re-elected him chief justice in 2012, bless their hearts.

Last year, Moore went on a cross-country speaking tour to warn folks that same-sex marriage a devilish plot to destroy to America. Also last year, Moore went to Mississippi to speak to the anti-choice group Pastors For Life where he attacked marriage equality and declared that the First Amendment applies only to Christians. And in 2012, Moore told everybody who would listen during his campaign for chief justice that same-sex marriage is not about equality for lesbians and gays but an evil plan to destroy the God-ordained institution of marriage.

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EXCLUSIVE: Former FWISD Superintendent Walter Dansby to challenge longtime trustee

Posted on 28 Jan 2015 at 11:35am
Moss3

Former Fort Worth ISD President Christene Moss.

Sources have confirmed that former Fort Worth Independent School District Superintendent Walter Dansby will challenge incumbent Christene Moss in her re-election race.

Dansby had worked for the district for nearly 40 years in various capacities until his resignation as superintendent last summer. His last day as a district employee is Saturday, Jan. 31.

Moss was first elected to the board in 1990 and is a past board president. She was one of three board members who voted against Dansby’s resignation. She is married to former Fort Worth Councilman Frank Moss.

Filing for municipal elections runs today (Wednesday, Jan. 28) through Feb. 27.

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California judges banned from participating in Boy Scouting

Posted on 28 Jan 2015 at 10:55am
Wahls.Zach

Zach Wahls

This week the California Supreme Court barred the state’s judges from participating in youth groups that discriminate against LGBT people.

The change to the ethics rules prevents judges in California from participating in the Boy Scouts of America, which is based in Irving. BSA changed its policy on gay scouts under the age of 18, but it retains its discriminatory policy on scout leaders.

That standard will be part of this year’s Corporate Equality Index that is prepared by the Human Rights Campaign.

“The Boy Scouts of America’s practice of discrimination in banning LGBT leaders is not just wrong but totally incompatible with professional values of equality, fairness and equal opportunity,” said Deena Fidas, director of HRC Foundation’s Workplace Equality Program, and co-author of the foundation’s annual Corporate Equality Index, in a statement on HRC’s website.

A number of demonstrations in front of Boy Scouts of America headquarters in Irving were, in part, responsible for the change in policy for scouts. Pressure mounted when Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout with two moms who founded Scouts for Equality, got several major corporate donors to drop their support of the organization, because funding a group that discriminates violated their own corporate policies.

The CEI’s new policy may encourage additional companies with otherwise perfect scores to stop funding the Boy Scouts.

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ACA rules change for 2015 recognizing same-sex married couples

Posted on 27 Jan 2015 at 4:09pm

healthcareUnder the Affordable Care Act, the rules have changed for same-sex couples buying health insurance on The Marketplace in 2015.

“For coverage starting in 2015, an insurance company that offers health coverage to opposite-sex spouses must do the same for same-sex spouses,” Healthcare.gov explains on a page for same-sex married couples.

The couple must be legally married in a state that issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The current count is 36 states+2 marriage equality cities: D.C. and St. Louis. Every state now at least borders on a marriage equality state.

So, if a couple is legally married, it doesn’t matter where they live, where the insurance company is located or whether the policy is new or reissued. A same-sex couple is now entitled to buy the same policy offered to opposite-sex couples

When applying, select “married” if you and your spouse plan to file a joint federal tax return for 2014, select “yes.” (By the way, if you are married, you must either file jointly or as married, filing separately.

If you are not married, but in a same-sex relationship, this rule does not apply. However, if either partner has an employer that offers partner benefits, the uninsured partner may be able to buy insurance through the employer. It may be cheaper, however, to purchase a plan as a single on The Marketplace.

The deadline to enroll this year is Feb. 15.

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BREAKING: Judge declines to toss Perry indictment case

Posted on 27 Jan 2015 at 3:52pm
Rick-Perry

Former Gov. Rick Perry

A state judge declined today (Tuesday, Jan. 27) to toss an indictment against former Gov. Rick Perry for abuse of power, the San Antonio New-Express reports.

Perry was indicted last summer after he threatened to veto funding for the public corruption unit in the Travis County District Attorney’s office. He stated the Democratic incumbent Rosemary Lehmberg had lost the public’s trust after being arrested for drunk driving. After Lehmberg refused to resign, Perry cut the funding.

Lehmberg, a Democrat, decided to not seek re-election.

A complaint filed by Texans for Public Justice alleged Perry abused his official capacity and accused him of “coercion of a public servant.”

Perry, who is mulling a second presidential run, has reportedly paid his legal team  $1 million out of his campaign war chest.

 

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Alabama judge issues second ruling upholding equality

Posted on 27 Jan 2015 at 1:26pm
U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade issued a second ruling today (Tuesday, Jan. 27) upholding marriage equality in Alabama, according to Freedom To Marry, the national organization working for marriage equality nation wide.

Granade, appointed by President George W. Bush, issued a similar ruling on Friday, Jan. 23, in a different marriage equality case. Both rulings have been stayed for 14 days pending appeals. But if the stays are not extended, same-sex couples should be able to legally marry in Alabama beginning the week of Feb. 9, making it the 37th marriage equality state.

(And unless the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rules in favor of marriage equality very quickly and chooses not to issue a stay, that would mean Alabama will be a functioning marriage equality state before Texas. Alabama, y’all!)

Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson said of the newest ruling: “Today’s victory in Alabama is the latest in a number of marriage wins from a bipartisan cascade of courts across the country, including the Deep South. When the first couples marry, their neighbors across Alabama will see that families are helped and no one is hurt. As we look forward to a nationwide ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court this summer, this tremendous momentum shows that America — all of America — is truly ready for the freedom to marry.”

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BREAKING: Mormon Church to back LGB nondiscrimination bill

Posted on 27 Jan 2015 at 11:53am

Equality_Utah_logoThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced this morning (Tuesday, Jan. 27) at a press conference its support of a bill in the Utah legislature barring discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The LDS Church also announced it backs a bill that affirms an individual’s right to refuse a same-sex marriage if that individually objects on religious grounds.

According to the Salt Lake City Tribune, the move is major milestone for Utah’s LGBT community. The nondiscrimination measure is likely to pass with the Church’s backing.

“We call on local, state and the federal government,” said Elder Dallin Oaks in a news release, “to serve all of their people by passing legislation that protects vital religious freedoms for individuals, families, churches and other faith groups while also protecting the rights of our LGBT citizens in such areas as housing, employment and public accommodation in hotels, restaurants and transportation — protections which are not available in many parts of the country.”

The LDS Church previously backed a similar ordinance barring discrimination in housing and employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity in Salt Lake City in 2009. The measure ultimately passed.

Still the Church’s support of the religious liberty bill reaffirmed its belief that same-sex sexual relations are contrary to their religious beliefs.

Oaks reiterated the Church’s position. He lamented “the steady erosion of treasured [religious] freedoms that are guaranteed in the United States Constitution.”

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