Star-Telegram to begin publishing same-sex marriage, other announcements

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 7.43.16 PM

David Mack Henderson

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 7.42.43 PMEffective Sunday, March 8, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram will be accepting same-sex marriage, engagement, anniversary and civil union announcements, Fairness Fort Worth President David Mack Henderson announced today (Saturday, March 7).

The first print issue of the Star-Telegram to include such announcements will be Sunday, March 15. The deadline to get such announcements in that issue is Monday, March 9. The announcements are considered paid advertising.

Henderson said the Star-Telegram has few restrictions on timelines for such announcements, and that the newspaper currently has “engagement announcements posted for more than a year out, or no timeline at all, and also a marriage announcement published seven months after the fact. We suggest that you include you were ‘legally married’ or that your engagement is to ‘wed legally’ in your narrative to expedite inclusion,” he said.

Henderson sad that Fairness Fort Worth representatives have held discussions over the last several weeks senior management at the Star-Telegram, “encouraging the paper to present a more realistic picture of our community throughout their coverage area.” He said those discussion have led to “increased coverage of timely legislative and court actions, the announcement by our Tarrant County Clerk’s office regarding issuing marriage licenses when courts clear the way and a superb article featuring two local same-sex families with children who represent the essence of what it means to be part of the integral fabric of our community.”

Henderson said that Star-Telegram Publisher Gary Wortel confirmed for him that the paper will carry announcements from LGBT couples. Henderson also noted that the newspaper’s criteria for marriage announcement specifically are based on the couple being legally married in a jurisdiction that legally recognizes same-sex marriage. Those who hold commitment ceremonies or holy unions that are not legally recognized can place their announcement in the Star-Telegram’s “celebrations” section.

Henderson also said that couples wanting to place an announcement in the Star-Telegram need to remember such announcements have to be paid for. Costs for marriage announcements are at three levels, starting at $75 and going up to $504.

The announces are “now available to all citizens, as they should be under the city of Fort Worth’s non-discrimination ordinance regarding public accommodations,” Henderson said. “Mr. Wortel shared that in the case of a large number of ads [being placed] immediately due to pent-up demand, they can always print more pages. The online announcements remain for months, while each ad is run on one specific Sunday in print.

“FFW will continue working with Star-Telegram management to iron out any issues that arise,” Henderson said. “For instance, if the web site still says bride/groom, overlook that for now, and still register.

“We encourage our community to actively promote their authentic, loving relationships, giving testimony to our lives truly lived and fostering an embracing environment for our youth in search of proactive role models and seeking their rightful place as they grow and develop into healthy adulthood,” Henderson said. “The time for our families is now.”

Here is the announcement that ran in the Sunday, March 8 issue of Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Section D, Page 5, announcing the policy change:

“To Our Readers: The Star-Telegram accepts announcements for Weddings, Engagements, Anniversaries, and Civil Unions regardless of gender. To qualify for publication in our Sunday Life section, under the Wedding heading, same-sex wedding ceremonies must be performed in states where same-sex marriages are legally recognized. Ceremonies taking place in states where same-sex marriages are not legally recognized will be listed under Celebrations. The Star-Telegram reserves the right to reject, edit or revise any copy and photos for any reason deemed material by the publisher. In the event the advertiser has prepaid for advertising which is later rejected or canceled by the Star-Telegram, the sole liability for such action by the Star-Telegram shall be a refund of the unused portion of the prepayment for such canceled advertising. The advertiser will be contacted by the Star-Telegram Announcement Coordinator after the announcement has been edited. The announcement will not be published until final approval has been given by the advertiser. Please do not use any abbreviations in your announcement information. To place an announcement go to: www. star-telegram.com/celebrations or call 817-390-7178. Deadline: Monday noon prior to the Sunday publication.”

—  Tammye Nash

BREAKING: When ruling comes, Tarrant County Clerk will issue marriage licenses

gay_marriage_81102178_620x350Fairness Fort Worth President David Henderson reports the Tarrant County Clerk’s office will issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if the 5th Circuit rules the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

“If the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals  were to  find the Texas bans on same-sex marriages unconstitutional and no stay is imposed on that decision, then Tarrant County will begin issuing marriage licenses in compliance with court rulings. We may need a day, maybe two, to configure changes to our systems and forms in cooperation with our outside vendor; however, we intend to comply with rulings that may be issued,” said Tarrant County Clerk’s Office Chief Deputy Jeff Nicholson to Henderson.

Garcia’s office had previously said Tarrant County would not give marriage licenses to same sex couples because the county does not fall into the federal court district in which the state’s same-sex marriage ban was ruled unconstitutional.

Henderson added that while he “is unaware of any state district judges in Tarrant County that will waive the 72-hour waiting period…getting equal access to a license is the more crucial step.”

—  James Russell

UPDATE: Defined benefit retirement plans must also recognize same-sex marriages

David-Henderson

David Mack Henderson

In the Dec. 5 issue of Dallas Voice, we reported on the discovery by Resource Center Communications and Advocacy Manager Rafael McDonnell and Fairness Fort Worth President David Mack Henderson that the Internal Revenue Service requires that defined contribution retirement plans — such as 401(a), 401(k) and 125 cafeteria plans —  recognize same-sex spouses of plan members if the couple were married in a jurisdiction that legally recognizes such marriages — even if the couple lives in a state that bans marriage equality.

Henderson has since discovered that defined benefit plans must also recognize same-sex spouses:

“From Answers to Frequently Asked Questions for Individuals of the Same Sex Who Are Married Under State Law:
Q17. What are some examples of the consequences of these rules for qualified retirement plans?
A17. The following are some examples of the consequences of these rules:
Plan A, a qualified defined benefit plan, is maintained by Employer X, which operates only in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriages. Nonetheless, Plan A must treat a participant who is married to a spouse of the same sex under the laws of a different jurisdiction as married for purposes of applying the qualification requirements that relate to spouses.”

A defined benefit pension plan is a type of pension plan in which an employer/sponsor promises a specified monthly benefit on retirement that is predetermined by a formula based on the employee’s earnings history, tenure of service and age, rather than depending directly on individual investment returns. A defined contribution plan, on the other hand, does not promise a specific amount of benefits at retirement. In these plans, the employee or the employer (or both) contribute to the employee’s individual account under the plan, sometimes at a set rate.

You can also find information on the Equality Texas website.

—  Tammye Nash

Fairness Fort Worth Legacy Project honors community leaders

Fairness Fort Worth honored five community leaders for their activism for the acceptance and rights of LGBT people in the community last night, Friday, Oct. 25 at a private home in Fort Worth.

Todd Camp, a founder of both Fairness Fort Worth and QCinema, was emcee.

The five honorees were: Kelly Smith, immediate past president of and long-time volunteer with the AIDS Outreach Center; Xavier Khan, a OD Wyatt High School sophomore who founded the school’s gay-straight alliance; DeeJay Johnannessen, executive director of HELP in Fort Worth; Jean Wallace, vice president for human relations at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics; and Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead. Wallace and Halstead were unable to attend.

Rev. Carol West received the inaugural Tom Anable Recognition of Excellence Award.

 

 

 

 

 

—  James Russell

Uplift Education introduces new inclusive anti-bullying policy

60144_470172559670970_1080250106_nUplift Education, a network of 14 charter schools across North Texas, began the new school year with a new robust anti-bullying policy drafted in collaboration with Fairness Fort Worth and the Resource Center Dallas. David Mack Henderson, president of Fairness Fort Worth, wrote on Facebook:

When school started at the 14 campuses of Uplift Education’s charter schools across North Texas last week, the over 12,000 students were greeted with a new, fully inclusive anti-bullying policy that includes protections against acts “motivated either by any actual or perceived characteristic such as…sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.” That policy was developed with the input of Fairness Fort Worth and Resource Center. Officials from both groups met with senior leadership of Uplift in the spring of 2012, proactively suggesting that the schools adopt a policy that would specifically protect LGBTQ and other students. Uplift developed a draft policy last fall, and turned to Fairness Fort Worth and the Center for additional input and review. The new policy was adopted by the Uplift board this spring and went into effect at the beginning of the school year.

Check out this coming week’s edition of the Voice for more information on the policy.

—  James Russell

Resource Center and Fairness Fort Worth ask reps to protect LGBT elderly

Cece_Cox

Cece Cox

Resource Center and Fairness Fort Worth reached out to Rep. Marc Veasey and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson to add LGBT-specific protections to Medicaid’s Home and Community-Based Services programs for seniors. Veasey represents U.S. District House 33, and Johnson represents U.S. District House 30.

The National Senior Citizens Law Center issued a report in 2011 that found LGBT seniors often went back into the closet to protect themselves in healthcare facilities. Many endured verbal and phyical abuse by other residents and staff.

RC’s CEO Cece Cox and FFW’s President David Mack Henderson asked Veasey and Johnson to encourage HHS to amend its rules to protect LGBT seniors.

Their letter is below:

RC FFW

 

—  David Taffet

David Mack Henderson named president of Fairness Fort Worth

DMH7.25.13

David Mack Henderson

David Mack Henderson, who has been associated with Fairness Fort Worth since its inception, was named the group’s new president on Thursday. Former president Jon Nelson stepped down recently after moving to Dallas.

Also elected were Vice President James F. McAlister,  Secretary Robert C. Miller and Treasurer Denise Bennett.

Henderson is a tax accountant and realtor. He has a bachelor’s degree in music and business from the University of Texas at Arlington, where he founded the school’s first LGBT student organization in 1980. In Dallas he served as a board member of Dallas Gay Alliance in 1984 during the formation of the AIDS Resource Center, now known as Resource Center Dallas.

After the raid on the Rainbow Lounge, he helped form Fairness Fort Worth in July 2009 and served as its treasurer for three years. He’s been involved as an LGBT awareness facilitator for city of Fort Worth employees and FWISD counselors.

—  David Taffet

Fort Worth Council declares today ‘Jon Nelson Day’ in honor of FFW president

JonNelsonDay

Jon Nelson, center left, shakes Councilman Joel Burns’ hand during the Jon Nelson Day proclamation presentation at Fort Worth City Council. (Via Facebook)

The Fort Worth City Council issued a proclamation Tuesday declaring it “Jon Nelson Day” in the city to honor the local LGBT leader.

Nelson, who worked on the city’s Diversity Task Force after the Rainbow Lounge raid and later helped start the city’s LGBT advocacy group Fairness Fort Worth, moved to Dallas’ Oak Cliff neighborhood earlier this month.

Nelson has lived in Fort Worth for 38 years and has been involved in numerous city organizations and commissions for at least 30 of those years. He said city leaders wanted to recognize his contributions to the city over that period.

“I’m honored,” Nelson said about the proclamation. “It was a surprise to me that I got that but I was honored to get it.”

—  Dallasvoice

Fairness Fort Worth holds 1st mixer

Jon Nelson

Jon Nelson

Fairness Fort Worth is holding its first mixer.

The FFW board will present an LGBT community update at Times Ten Cellar, 1100 Foch St., Fort Worth this evening.

FFW formed in the wake of the raid of the Rainbow Lounge in 2009 and was successful in updating nondiscrimination ordinances and adding benefits for Fort Worth LGBT employees.

“The purpose is to inform people about what Fairness Fort Worth is, what it’s done and what it plans to do in the future,” FFW President Jon Nelson said.

He said the group has several committees and wants to get people involved. He’ll talk about how they can help.

Free hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar begin at 6 p.m. and Nelson will make his remarks at 7 p.m.

Nelson said this isn’t a fundraiser but just a way for people in the community to get together and meet others in Fort Worth who want to make a difference.

—  David Taffet

Celebration of life tonight for Fairness Fort Worth co-founder Pam Rogers

Pamela Rogers, left

Fairness Fort Worth co-founder Pam Rogers, 55, an activist and artist who designed the group’s T-shirts, banners and ads in the wake of the Rainbow Lounge raid, died Friday after a battle with cancer. According to an obituary in the Star-Telegram, Rogers died peacefully in the arms of her wife, Angi Brown. A celebration of Rogers’ life will be at 7 p.m. Sunday at Westside Unitarian Universalist Church in Fort Worth. From Fairness Fort Worth:

With heavy heart, the Board of FFW must share with you the passing of one of our founding members, Pam Rogers, 55. Already skilled in the LGBT advocacy world, Pam stepped up to help our community organize after the Rainbow Lounge Raid, often helping guide discussions toward constructive policies and practices. When asked to help with projects the only answer we ever got was, “Sure!” She took the logo designed by Bernardo Vallarino and crafted most of our outreach from banners to shirts and print advertising, quickly branding FFW when we needed her professional touch. Pam was diagnosed with stage four colon and liver cancer in Jan/12, and, rather than succumb within a few weeks, she battled with an incredibly positive attitude and bought another year. Last December, adept at weathering storms, Pam (left) and her love, Angi Brown (right) married in NYC just hours before Hurricane Sandy hit. She also leaves five siblings, numerous nieces and nephews and an extraordinary selfless legacy of creating a better world for local LGBT people.

A Celebration of Life for FFW co-founder Pamela Jeanne Rogers will be held Sunday, Feb. 17, 7 p.m., at Westside Unitarian Universalist Church, 901 Page Ave., Fort Worth, TX 76110.

—  John Wright