Spin 4 a Cause benefits The Humane Society tonight at Axiom

Dogs and DJs

Hey, DJs love animals too. In tonight’s Spin 4 a Cause, the bi-monthly DJ event benefits The Humane Society. With DJs Joshua Welch and S.O.U.L.Jah on turntable duty and Jeff Roose hosting, music, food and good will all comes together. The best part? Pets are welcome to join the event in the patio. Just be careful with Fluffy around all that sushi.

DEETS: Axiom Sushi Lounge,4123 Cedar Springs Road. 6 p.m.

—  Rich Lopez

Judge to rule this week in Nikki Araguz case

Nikki Araguz

Transgender widow vows appeal if she loses case

JUAN A. LOZANO  |  Associated Press

WHARTON, Texas — The transgender widow of a Texas firefighter will likely learn next week whether his family’s request to nullify their marriage and strip her of any death benefits will be granted, a judge said Friday.

State District Judge Randy Clapp made the announcement after hearing arguments in a lawsuit filed by the family of firefighter Thomas Araguz III, who was killed while battling a blaze last year. The suit argues that his widow shouldn’t get any benefits because she was born a man and Texas doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.

The widow, Nikki Araguz, said she had done everything medically and legally possible to show that she is female and was legally married under Texas law. She believes that she’s entitled to widow’s benefits.

“I believe the judge is going to rule in my favor,” Araguz said after the court hearing.

The lawsuit seeks control over death benefits and assets totaling more than $600,000, which the firefighter’s family wants to go to his two sons from a previous marriage. Voiding the marriage would prevent Nikki Araguz from receiving any insurance or death benefits or property the couple had together.

Thomas Araguz died while fighting a fire at an egg farm near Wharton, about 60 miles southwest of Houston, in July 2010. He was 30.

His mother, Simona Longoria, filed a lawsuit asking that her son’s marriage be voided. She and her family have said he learned of his wife’s gender history just prior to his death, and after he found out, he moved out of their home and planned to end the marriage.

But Nikki Araguz, 35, has insisted that her husband was aware she was born a man and that he fully supported her through the surgical process to become a woman. She underwent surgery two months after they were married in 2008.

Longoria’s attorney, Chad Ellis, argued that Texas law — specifically a 1999 appeals court ruling that stated chromosomes, not genitals, determine gender — supports his client’s efforts to void the marriage.

The ruling upheld a lower court’s decision that threw out a wrongful death lawsuit filed by a San Antonio woman, Christie Lee Cavazos Littleton, after her husband’s death. The court said that although Littleton had undergone a sex-change operation, she was actually a man, based on her original birth certificate, and therefore her marriage and wrongful death claim were invalid.

Ellis presented medical and school records that he said showed Nikki Araguz was born without female reproductive organs and that she presented herself as a male while growing up and going to school. He also said her birth certificate at the time of her marriage indicated she was a man.

“By law, two males cannot be married in this state,” Ellis told the judge.

Nikki Araguz, who was born in California, did not change her birth certificate to reflect she had become a female until after her husband’s death, said Edward Burwell, one of the attorneys for Thomas Araguz’s ex-wife, Heather Delgado, the mother of his two children.

But one of Nikki Araguz’s attorneys, Darrell Steidley, said that when his client got her marriage license, she presented the necessary legal documents to show she was a female. He also noted changes made in 2009 to the Texas Family Code that allowed people to present numerous alternatives to a birth certificate as the proof of identity needed to get a marriage license. That was an example, he argued, of the state trying to move away from the 1999 appeals court ruling.

The changes in 2009 allowed transgendered people to use proof of their sex change to get a marriage license. The Texas Legislature is currently considering a bill that would prohibit county and district clerks from using a court order recognizing a sex change as documentation to get married.

After the hearing, the firefighter’s family and attorneys for his ex-wife criticized plans by Nikki Araguz to star in a reality television dating show and implied she was only interested in money and fame that the case would bring her.

“That is absurd,” Nikki Araguz said in response. “I’m after my civil equality and the rights that I deserve as the wife of a fallen firefighter.”

If the judge rules against the firefighter’s family in their motion for a summary judgment, the case would then proceed to trial. Araguz said if the judge rules against her, she would appeal, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

—  John Wright

Hear Lovers tonight at Andy’s in Denton

Lovers’ finds zero limits as an out musicians

Lovers has five albums under its belt, and through rotating members, the touchstone has always been Berk. But this current incarnation of the band seems to find Lovers at its best self. Berk, Kerby Ferris and Emily Kingan have produced a confident album with Dark Light, and after a decade of doing this, Berk feels this is the band at its strongest.

“When we came together, it felt very egalitarian and feminist and comfortable,” she says. “I hadn’t experienced that level of confidence and there are a lot of benefits to having our kind of connection. I felt like this was a really great place to be creatively.”

This confidence has taken Berk to new levels, as an artist and a person. All three members identify as queer, and for Berk, that offers a comfort in writing her music. Although she starts the song on her acoustic guitar, the others chime in for a group dynamic.

At 32, her personal growth over these 10 years has manifested differently in Dark Light than it has on any of the previous releases. She’s out of the closet, but this album shows Berk coming out of her shell.

“I feel like I sort of went from being an artist who was working mostly to exorcise personal demons to someone who, with time, is able to looking more outward,” she says. “This is the most extroverted album Lovers has ever had.”

Read the entire article here.

DEETS: With Sextape and One Red Martian. Andy’s Bar, 122 N. Locust Road, Denton. May 13. 9 p.m. $6–$8. LoversAreLovers.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Spin 4 a Cause at Axiom Sushi tonight benefits Kidd’s Kids

Hey Mr. DJ

Don’t say music can’t bring people together. That’s the weekly goal of Spin 4 a Cause with DJ Jose G. Every Wednesday S4AC is intent on “bringing together community leaders, music and food to raise awareness and funds for local nonprofit chapters and organizations.” This week’s guest DJ is Derrick Brown and the night benefits Kidd’s Kids. So all that and happy hour drink specials? Umm, yes, please.

DEETS: Axiom Sushi Lounge,4123 Cedar Springs Road. 6 p.m. No cover.

—  Rich Lopez

Reuters details gap in Federal Benefits for LGBT couples

Reuters has detailed the painful story of how Herb Burtis and John Ferris, although a beautiful love story, continue to be cheated out of the benefits the surviving spouse, Burtis, deserves.

Herb Burtis and John Ferris met while both were undergraduate music students at Michigan State University in 1948. Burtis was 18, and Ferris was a 22-year-old veteran of the U.S. Army. They studied with the same organ teacher and connected initially through their mutual love of music.

Burtis and Ferris committed to one another and ultimately spending 60 years together. They were married in 2004, after Massachusetts became the first state in the country to legalize same-sex marriage.

“I told him I was only marrying him for his benefits,” Burtis recalls with a laugh. At the time, he was just kidding about the benefits– but it turned out to be no laughing matter.

The article goes into detail about the thousands of dollars we are denied through Social Security, health insurance, income taxes, tax treatment of estates along with denied Medicare benefits. Of course, their story of discrimination is legion in our community. There truly is no excuse except for a desire to continue to deny us our equality.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  David Taffet

Arizona’s Lawyers Sue To Stop Domestic Benefits During Court Decision

BrewerJan Not content to battle just the health care law and illegal immigration policy, lawyers for the state of Arizona are now expanding their efforts to eliminate that state's domestic partner benefits.

A judge ruled last year that the state must continue paying the benefits while courts decide the legality of a Republican and Gov. Jan Brewer-led effort to end the policy, enacted while Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was governor.

According to the Copper State's attorneys, though, the benefits need to be stopped during the proceedings to help the state save money:

Assistant Attorney General Charles Grube contends that U.S. District Judge John Sedwick was wrong in issuing an injunction last year barring the state from altering its benefits package.

That ruling requires Arizona to keep funding the coverage until there is a final ruling, something that could take years.

State lawmakers voted to end the benefits as a method of saving money.

Grube said that, in deciding whether to issue an injunction, Sedwick was required to consider not only the claims of harm to the people losing the benefits but also the harm to the state of being required to maintain them. But Grube said Sedwick was "explicitly dismissive" of evidence presented by the state about the cost burden on taxpayers of continuing to provide coverage.

Here's an idea: Arizona's lawyers could stop filing politically motivated lawsuits that cost untold amounts of time, money and, frankly, make the rest of the state look bad. It's just common sense.


Towleroad News #gay

—  David Taffet

Our bottom line is equality. Businesses can decide if ours benefits or threatens their own

In light of the whole Chick-Fil-A brouhaha of this past week, we keep getting the same note from the company’s defenders. Whether in email or in forums, both on this site and elsewhere, there’s this idea that by simply making note of an announced sponsorship or united advocacy campaign, we on the pro-LGBT side were acting like big, bad meanies. That’s a compelling claim, if you consider the basic facts.

In order to start controversy, all this site had to do was simply make note of The Pennsylvania Family Institute’s announced sponsorship with Chick-Fil-A. That’s it. We simply had to repost a flyer that PFI had already created! From there, others weighed in, PFI abruptly scrubbed the flyer (without noting their action), and Chick-Fil-A Corporate tweeted its own interest in the matter (before issuing a carefully parsed statement two days later)

Now, If Chick-Fil-A was proud of the support and its public illumination, then there would be ABSOLUTELY NO PROBLEM ON THEIR END. That’s the way it is with any number of pro-equality corporations, who quite proudly support LGBT events, pride marches, conferences, etc. Pro-equality companies tend to embrace diversity, progress, and inclusion, as well as those who advocate for it. I’ve consumed enough corporate-donated food and stashed away enough corporate-branded swag to know this to be true.

So that’s what’s so darn telling about these kinds of corporate developments. When we highlight them, more often than not, the company (be it privately or publicly held) tends to back away, demand their name be scrubbed, renounce support, etc. Whereas the reaction, both from Chick-Fil-A and PFI could’ve been “So what?” or “Yeah, we’re proud to support each other on ‘protect marriage’ causes,” we instead got walk backs, disavowals, convenient explanations, shot-messengers, and scrubbed flyers. And this is how it plays out almost every time.

That corporate reality is not on us, our movement, or the canard that “militant” gays wield a mutant power of intimidation. Everyone — consumers, business owner, stock holders, advocacy groups — has their own outlooks, choices, and free will. In America’s marketplace, equality is the outlook that seems to be winning, with “pro-family” outreach an increasing liability.

***

*Oh, and this also goes for our more recent revelations about Chick-Fil-A/WinShape’s connections to the larger marriage movement. If they are proud of this fight, then they should like our bringing it to light.




Good As You

—  admin

Bigots accidentally strip health benefits from retired cops & firemen in El Paso

Oops.

A group of conservative Christians set out to block El Paso, Texas, from granting health-care benefits to same-sex partners of city-government employees. But the ballot measure they helped pass in November may also end up stripping benefits from others, including retired policemen and firefighters.

The measure was aimed at gay workers and their partners. The wording of the proposal, however, was vague, asking El Paso residents to endorse “traditional family values” by limiting benefits to “city employees and their legal spouse and dependent children.”

So when 55% of the voters approved the measure on Election Day, they eliminated coverage for some 200 people who don’t fit that description—among them elected officials, who aren’t technically city employees, and many former city workers, the city says.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Facebook to Compensate Employees for Unfair Benefits Tax on Same-Sex Couples

Social media site Facebook announced last week that its United States-based employees who opt to cover their same-sex domestic partners under the company’s medical, dental or vision plans will be eligible for reimbursement to offset the additional federal tax liability incurred by receiving those benefits. 

With this announcement social media giant Facebook joins the small, but growing list of companies that reimburse LGBT employees for taxes on domestic partner health benefits.  Other companies – including Barclay’s, Google, Cisco Systems, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and law firm Morrison & Foerster – have also been following this trend.

The practice of reimbursing employees for taxes on domestic partner health benefits, called grossing up, is important because under current federal law, same-sex couples face the unfair burden of having their health benefits taxed while married opposite-sex couples do not.

HRC applauds Facebook for recognizing the challenges LGBT employees face and doing their part to address these inequities.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

Mexico House of Reps Backs Benefits for Gay Couples

MEXICO CITY MARRIAGE ALT 02 X390 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COMThe country’s house of representatives voted Tuesday to amend rules governing social security benefits for gay and lesbian couples.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin