UPDATE: Lesbian couple involved in fatal Fort Worth accident

Update:

Fort Worth Police Officer Tamara Pena got back with me this afternoon about the fatal multi-car accident in Fort Worth that left many dead and injured, including a lesbian couple, on Sunday morning.

According to Pena:

Officers were dispatched early Sunday, April 12, to investigate a multi-vehicle accident involving an 18-wheeler truck. Several vehicles had stopped to help a driver who had been involved in a single vehicle accident. Many of the individuals who had stopped were out of their vehicles.  An 18-wheeler struck the vehicle that had been involved in the initial accident and also struck several vehicles and individuals who had stopped to help.  The 18-wheeler caught on fire. Four individuals were confirmed deceased on the scene, another female was transported to an area hospital where she later died. Two other individuals were transported to area hospitals, one by ambulance, another by Careflight. Additionally, the truck driver was transported to an area hospital but he did not appear to have serious injuries.  Traffic Investigators are investigating the factors of the accident.

Original post:

According to the Dallas Morning News, a Fort Worth lesbian couple were among those involved in a fatal car accident on early Sunday morning in Fort Worth.

Veronica Gonzalez, who was raised in Oak Cliff, and her fiancee’s sister were among those killed.

Gonzalez’s fiancee was injured in the crash and remains unconscious, according to the News.

I’ve put in a call to the Fort Worth Police Department and will update this story as I hear more.

—  James Russell

PHOTOS: Imperial Court de Fort Worth/Arlington’s Mother Michial awards ceremony

The Mother Michial Community Service Awards, presented by the Imperial Court de Fort Worth/Arlington, took place last night (Wednesday, March 25) at Club Reflection in Fort Worth. Candidates were screened throughout March, culminating in a vote last Saturday at Celebration Community Church.

Emperor and Empress 35 JD Swisher and Scarlett Rayne, who are married in real life, served as the awards show’s emcees.

Numerous bar owners, their staff and volunteers were in attendance.

Among the categories were best male and female impersonators, best bar and charity organization of the year. AIDS Outreach Center won charity organization of the year.

—  James Russell

Tarrant County AIDS Walk also excedes expectations

Inclement weather didn’t stop 500 walkers from participating in this year’s Tarrant County AIDS Walk. The 23rd annual event benefitting the AIDS Outreach Center even exceeded expectations, said Sarina Harz, AOC’s Development Associate.

As of Friday, March 20, Harz told the Voice the staff anticipated around 40 day-of registrants. They had more than 60, she said.

The weather also didn’t prevent 20 vendors ranging from Trinity MCC in Arlington to TCU’s Energy Institute from setting up.

Another plus? Almost all the pets from the Humane Society’s adoption booth found homes. Hopefully the last two critters were swept up after I left.

Beside exceeding financial expectations, this year brought new teams and faces, including this year’s top group fundraiser, the staff of the LGBT-friendly Sarah’s Place in Fort Worth.

The staff promised me a final vote tally and list of all the winners next week. While raising an estimated $30,000 ain’t bad at all, I hope the final numbers exceed their expectations.

 

—  James Russell

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

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.

 

 

—  Tammye Nash

Rodeo Goat opens in Dallas on Market Center

IMG_6400IMG_6397There’s a Rodeo Goat in Tarrant County, but who has time to cross the Trinity for a good burger? Now we don’t have to. The Dallas locale of Rodeo Goat just opened across the street from Dallas Voice offices. Known for its burgers and cheesy fries, it’s not exactly raw-organic-vegan low-fat fare … which is fine with us.

We’ll have a more formal review soon, but until now, this is what it looks like outside the Rodeo Goat.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

It’s New Year’s Eve: Party on and party safely

Screen shot 2014-12-31 at 10.04.37 AM

Are you still trying to decide where to go for New Year’s Eve? Here are a few options on where to go to bring 2015 in with a bang — and a couple of reminders to play it safe and keep the weather in mind and the drinking under control. This is a “no refusal” weekend for most area law enforcement agencies, and you don’t wanna start the year off with a trip to the pokey.

Wanna know where to go and what to do for New Year’s Eve? Here are just a few ideas:

The Round-Up Saloon’s New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball. Includes a catered buffet, breakfast after midnight, a cash balloon drop, a champagne toast and party favors. Tickets are $20 at the door. 3912 Cedar Springs Road.

Alexandre’s New Year’s Eve Party with Andrea Dawson and Band. Free champagne toast at midnight. No cover. Party hats and favors provided. 9 p.m–close. 4026 Cedar Springs Road.

Full Circle Tavern’s “Mad as Hatter” New Year’s Eve Party. Dress your head in its most interesting attire to ring in 2015. All-inclusive dinner, cocktails, live DJ, party favors and complementary champagne at midnight. RSVP at 214-208-3435. 1319 S. Lamar St.

The Grapevine’s New Year’s Eve Party. Features DJ Christopher J (of super ’80s band Berlin with Terri Nunn) spinning from 7 p.m. Cover is $1 at the door. 3902 Maple Ave.

Club Dallas New Years Eve Party. Event begins at 11p.m. with a champagne toast at midnight. 2616 Swiss Ave.

Considering the weather forecasts for tonight and tomorrow, you might want to make sure that you get somewhere fun and stay there! Here’s the forecast from Jeff Ray at CBS Channel 11:

It was already snowing in Jack and Denton counties — north and west of DFW — overnight Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. Today’s (Wednesday, Dec. 31′s) high is only going to get to about 37 degrees, and winter storm warnings have been issued, mostly for the western regions of the The Metroplex. Tarrant County is expected to get “a trace of wintry mix” and areas a bit further west may see up to half an inch of ice on the ground.

And yeah, the forecasts say everything will be west. But you don’t want to take a chance that some of that mess won’t make its way into Dallas and on east.

And now, here’s a word of warning from the Dallas Police Department on drinking and driving:

“The Dallas Police Department will conduct a No-Refusal DWI Initiative during the New Year’s Day Weekend. This initiative will begin at 6:00 P.M., Wednesday, December 31, 2014 and will end at 6:00 A.M., Monday, January 5, 2015.

“During this initiative, officers will secure a search warrant for a blood sample from all persons arrested for DWI who refuse to voluntarily give a breath and/or blood sample.

“The Dallas Police Department would like to remind everyone to not drink and drive.”

—  Tammye Nash

Tarrant for Hillary hosts Ready for Hillary bus and rally

Posted on 18 Dec 2014 at 12:34pm
Tarrant for Hillary, a group of Tarrant County residents urging former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016, hosted the touring Ready for Hillary bus yesterday (Wednesday, Dec. 17) at Cowtown Diner, 305 Main Street, in Fort Worth. Local elected officials including Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, Justice of the Peace Sergio de Leon, Fort Worth City Councilman Sal Espino and Haltom City Councilwoman Stephanie Davenport, spoke in support of a potential Clinton run.

BREAKING: Suspects arrested in Ashlea Harris murder

0700 flashTwo suspects have been arrested in connection to the murder of Ashlea Harris.

Per the Fort Worth Police Department:

Clarence David Mallory and Carter Carol Cervantez were signed and bond for each was set at $500,000.

On December 5, 2014,Mallory was taken into custody by Amarillo based members of the United States Marshal Service North Texas Fugitive Task Force.  He was apprehended at a private residence without incident.  Mallory was booked into Potter County Jail.  Fort Worth Police Department Fugitive Officers travelled to Amarillo and transported Mallory to the Fort Worth Police Homicide Unit to be interviewed by detectives.  After speaking with detectives, Mallory will be booked into the Fort Worth Jail for Capital Murder and an additional charge of Theft $1500-$20,000 with a bond of $100,000.

On Dec. 6, 2014, Cervantez was taken into custody by Tarrant County Sherriffs and was then transported to the Fort Worth Jail by Fugitive Officers where she was booked in on the Capital Murder warrant with a bond of $500,000 as well as a warrant for Theft $1,500 to $20,000 with a bond of $100,000.

Both Mallory and Cervantez have been arrested in reference to a theft of approximately $18,000 from the American Eagle Outfitters located at the Hulen Mall.  This offense occurred on Aug. 24, 2014 and was reported on Fort Worth Police Department offense #14-81057.  Homicide Detectives took over this investigation on Dec. 1, 2014.

No word on yet motives. More to come as the story develops.

—  James Russell

Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth top Texas cities in HRC Municipal Equality Index

MEI-2014-map-650x375The Human Rights Campaign released its third annual Municipal Equality Index today (Wednesday, Nov. 12) assessing LGBT equality in 353 cities across the nation, including 22 in Texas, according to a press release from HRC.

The MEI, the only nationwide rating system of LGBT inclusion in municipal law and policy, assesses cities on a one to 100 scale.

The average score for the 22 Texas cities is 28 out of 100 points, far below the national average of 59. Only Austin achieved a perfect 100 score. Dallas came in second with 91 points and Fort Worth third with 83 points.

San Antonio, El Paso and Houston earned scores of 72, 52 and 54 respectively, the only other cities to score more than 50 points.

Other surveyed Texas cities included Amarillo: 14,  Brownsville: 20, Corpus Christi: 16, Killeen: 10, Laredo: 2, Lubbock: 0, McAllen: 0, Pasadena: 10, Waco: 24.

The MEI rates cities based on 47 criteria falling under six broad categories: Non-discrimination laws, relationship recognition, employment policies, including transgender-inclusive insurance coverage, contracting non-discrimination requirements, and other policies relating to equal treatment of LGBT city employees, inclusiveness of city services, fair law enforcement practices and leadership on matters of equality.

Check out the full list here and this week’s edition of the Voice for comments from local leaders.

—  James Russell

BREAKING: Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead to resign

Halstead.JeffFort Worth Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead is expected to step down tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov. 11, after eight years heading the department, according to NBC 5.

His resignation is not effective immediately. He has not yet named an interim replacement.

Check back here with more information.

—  James Russell