UTSA decides to give military wife in-state tuition without changing policy

UTSA

Officials at the University of Texas at San Antonio have decided to offer the wife of an Air Force captain in-state tuition after previously denying her the rate.

Officials wouldn’t discuss the reasoning behind their original decision last week, only saying they were looking into it. While the state doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, the federal government does, and Lambda Legal said public universities that receive federal funding were required to offer military members and their families in-state tuition.

UTSA spokesman Joe Izbrand emailed Dallas Voice late last week to explain the spouse would be given in-state tuition.

“After carefully reviewing this matter, it has been determined that the student will be charged resident tuition,” he wrote in an email. “Our university is enriched through inclusiveness and diversity. We honor the service of our military personnel and recognize the sacrifices made by their families.

“Because of the complexities involved and the potential conflict between the federal statute and state law, the university will seek additional legal guidance on this issue.”

The spouse told Dallas Voice that while the policy hasn’t changed, she was informed on Friday that she would be given a $1,000 scholarship. Since students who are offered scholarships of at least $1,000 are given in-state tuition, she will now receive in-state tuition.

She said while she’s glad the issue was resolved, she hopes the policy is changed to be inclusive, so other same-sex military spouses can receive in-state tuition and she won’t worry about not receiving the rate next year if she doesn’t receive a scholarship.

“I’m bothered about it personally,” she said of the situation. “I’m bothered because it hasn’t changed the problem in the future or for next year.”

—  Anna Waugh

Additional states turn away National Guard spouses, one reverses itself

MilitaryPartnerMore states are following Texas’ lead and refusing to process ID cards for same-sex spouses of National Guard troops, American Military Partner Association reports, but one state reversed course.

Indiana and South Carolina joined Texas this week in sending same-sex spouses of National Guard troops to federal facilities to register. Both states accept applications from opposite-sex spouses.

But after further legal review, Indiana reversed itself and again began taking applications at National Guard bases.

“We applaud the Indiana National Guard for doing the right thing,” said Stephen Peters, president of AMPA. “We urge other state national guards who are refusing to comply with the Defense Department directive to process all spouses for federal benefits to immediately follow suit.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., ranking member of the House Armed Service Committee, wrote to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel asking him to intervene.

Louisiana, Oklahoma and Mississippi also began signing up all spouses but then stopped after Texas turned away applicants. In Texas, Alicia Butler was turned away from Camp Mabry on the first day same-sex spouses could sign up for IDs and is now being represented by Lambda Legal’s Dallas office.

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: Galveston man withdraws lawsuit challenging TX marriage ban

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Domenico Nuckols has decided to withdraw his lawsuit challenging Texas’ constitutional marriage amendment after talking with legal experts about his case.

Nuckols, a retired nuclear engineer, filed the case two weeks ago and as of last week was trying to find pro bono legal representation. But he said after talking with the American Civil Liberties Union and receiving a letter on Lambda Legal’s position, he withdrew the suit Monday. The judge signed the order dismissing the case yesterday.

He said the organizations explained they had picked several states like Pennsylvania and Virginia where they thought they could win the fight for same-sex marriage. Nuckols also hasn’t tried to marry in Texas and doesn’t plan to do so, so standing could have been an issue with his case.

“It’s not the time to do it in Texas,” he said. “I don’t care if you have standing or not, it’s going to be very politicized.

“I’m disappointed but when you have so many people telling you you’re beating a dead horse, you should listen,” he added. “There’s a fight out there, but you can’t pick it in Texas.”

—  Anna Waugh

Lambda Legal holds victory celebration tonight at Hotel Palomar

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Every year about this time, Lambda Legal’s Dallas office holds a summer kickoff party. But there’s rarely been a season worth partying it up more than this one. With the recent triumphs in the U.S. Supreme Court, the gay rights group has a lot to celebrate — no wonder the theme is “Victory!”

You can be part of the festivities at Hotel Palomar’s Central 214, where cocktails and bites will be served while you learn about the details of the upcoming Landmark Dinner. It’s all taking place starting at 5:30 p.m.; you can get more information on their Facebook page.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Napolitano directs INS to process green card applications for gay couples

Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano

Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano

Binational couples may officially begin applying for green cards for the non-citizen spouse.

“After last week’s decision by the Supreme Court holding that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, President Obama directed federal departments to ensure the decision and its implication for federal benefits for same-sex legally married couples are implemented swiftly and smoothly,” Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said in a statement Monday.

“To that end, effective immediately, I have directed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse,” she said.

—  David Taffet

PHOTOS: About 500 attend Day of Decision rally on Cedar Springs

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By the time Dallas’ Day of Decision rally began at 7 p.m. at the Legacy of Love Monument, more than 300 people had gathered. As the crowd grew to close to 500, police closed a lane of Oak Lawn Avenue and two lanes of Cedar Springs Road.

GetEQUAL TX organizer Daniel Cates began the rally with chants of, “Right here, right now, I deserve full equality!”

Before the scheduled speakers, people from the crowd spoke in an open-megaphone session. One who claimed to be an “ex-lesbian” was countered with a chant of “No more hate” until the mic was taken from her and she left the steps of the monument.

Some of the speakers discussed the implications of the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decisions. Lambda Legal’s Ken Upton called the DOMA ruling a broad decision. He said it would take awhile to sort out the full implications.

“The ruling benefits the whole LGBT spectrum,” trans activist Oliver Blumer said. “It breaks down barriers.”

—  David Taffet

Lambda Legal presents The Landmark Dinner

The Landmark Dinner celebrates the Lawrence v. Texas decision that declared sodomy laws unconstitutional in 2003 and has been the basis for many legal gains made by the LGBT community in the last decade.

The Dallas office of Lambda Legal opened in August 2002, and the Lawrence decision was handed down in June 2003. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the opening of the South Central office in Dallas, the Landmark Dinner takes place on Aug. 10 at the Hotel Palomar followed by the White Party Gala.

Chad West, chair of the Leadership Committee, said that the dinner is the largest annual fundraiser for the regional Lambda Legal office.

“This year’s Landmark Dinner is particularly important because it will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of our regional office,” West said. “The event will feature great speakers Jenny and Jessica Buntemeyer, a married Iowa couple who sought an accurate death certificate for their stillborn child, Brayden. Despite the fact that they were married, the Iowa Department of Public Health erased Jenny’s name on the death certificate.”

Former American Airlines corporate secretary Charles MarLett and the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher will be recipients of the 2012 Partners for Equality Award. The award recognizes an individual, law firm and corporation in the Dallas area for their commitment and dedication to Lambda Legal’s mission to achieve equality for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people living with HIV.

Charles MarLett will be the recipient of the individual Partners for Equality award. MarLett served on Lambda Legal’s National Board of Directors from 2002 to 2008 and was a member of the Executive Committee for five years, including a two-year term as board co-chair. He also served as the interim regional director of the South Central Regional Office.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher will be the recipient of the law firm Partners for Equality award. The firm has been a long time National Supporter of Lambda Legal. They are currently providing pro-bono co-counsel services in Gill v. Devlin and Howell, Lambda Legal’s lawsuit claiming Tarrant County College officials violated the U.S. Constitution by preventing a qualified candidate from interviewing for full-time teaching positions because of their belief that she is a lesbian.

The corporate recipient will be Carol Meyer and her local Merrill Lynch group, the Meyer Group, who will be recognized as doing outstanding work in the LGBT community through investing.

Saturday, Aug. 11. Dinner from 6 to 10 p.m. White Party Gala immediately following until 2 a.m. Tickets are available online and are $200 for the dinner and White Party. Purchase tickets for the White Party only for $30 until Thursday. After that, tickets for the White Party are $40.

—  David Taffet

TCC settles lesbian former professor’s discrimination suit for $160K

Jacqueline “Jackie” Gill

Jacqueline “Jackie” Gill

Tarrant County College administrators agreed to pay a former lesbian professor more than $160,000 as part of a settlement in a federal discrimination lawsuit.

Jacqueline “Jackie” Gill filed a complaint in September 2011 stating she was unable to interview for a permanent position in the English department at the Northeast Campus of Tarrant County College in Hurst after her yearlong temporary position had expired.

Gill sought compensation for the time she was unemployed, as well as the opportunity to complete the application process at TCC, her attorney Ken Upton, senior staff attorney for Lambda Legal’s Dallas office, previously told Instant Tea.

Although the settlement doesn’t accept liability, Lambda Legal announced that TCC agreed to pay Gill more than $160,000 and to provide her with a positive letter of recommendation.

TCC, which adopted a nondiscrimination policy that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation last March, added a written policy prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The new policy was not part of the settlement, according to the statement.

“Jackie’s fight resulted in a published decision by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas that makes it clear that public employers can no longer claim ignorance about whether discriminating against employees based on their sexual orientation violates the U.S. Constitution,” Upton said in a statement.

—  Anna Waugh

Dallas wraps up June Pride series

The panel, from left: Roger Poindexter, Lorie Burch, Scott Whittall, the Rev. Dawson Taylor, Harold Steward, Cece Cox, Pastor Jon Haack and David Fisher. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

The city of Dallas wrapped up its LGBT Pride Month celebration Wednesday with a discussion of how the LGBT community has enriched the city.

A seven-member panel moderated by Fahari Arts Institute founder Harold Steward discussed the contributions their LGBT organizations have made to Dallas over the years and where they envision Dallas in the future. They then took questions from the handful of people in attendance.

The event in the City Hall Flag Room was the last event in the city’s Pride series “Honor, Educate and Celebrate.”

Panelists included Resource Center Dallas CEO and Executive Director Cece Cox, Cedar Springs Merchants Association Executive Director Scott Whittall, Turtle Creek Chorale Executive Director David Fisher, GBLT Chamber of Commerce board member Lorie Burch, Lambda Legal South Central Region Executive Director Roger Poindexter, Cathedral of Hope Executive Minister the Rev. Dawson Taylor and Promise Metropolitan Community Church senior Pastor Jon Haack.

City Council was in executive session so members could not attend, but Councilwoman Delia Jasso stepped out to speak briefly about her pride in the LGBT Task Force for planning great events over the last four weeks. Councilman Scott Griggs also stopped by the Flag Room and spoke briefly. The series began with a kickoff followed by conversations about city services and out officials. Jasso expressed a desire to have another celebration next June and promised it would be “bigger and better.”

While many of the organizations began as a way of welcoming the LGBT community with safe havens to worship, gain access to HIV/AIDS care and enjoy a safe evening out or unbiased legal council, the panel focused on how far Dallas has grown over the decades and how spread out the LGBT community has become. The days have passed where members of the LGBT community only live near Cedar Springs and the only bar patrons along the entertainment strip are gay.

Instead, the LGBT community and its businesses have integrated into Dallas while still maintaining a focus on their original customers, Whittall said. Even religious organizations have grown in attendance with allies who no longer find a barrier between spirituality and sexuality, but Taylor added that the next step is working from being a community that is tolerated to one that is accepted and celebrated.

Task Force member Pam Gerber closed the event by expressing how proud she was to have a June Pride celebration and welcomed input for next year’s events. She said that while the community is working toward acceptance, she “just wants to be.”

“I want to be nothing extraordinary, nothing out of the ordinary,” she said. “I just want to be.”

Suggestions for next year’s Pride can be made to Councilwoman Delia Jasso at 214-670-4052.

—  Anna Waugh

LGBT groups respond to immigration decision

LGBT leaders said they were encouraged by parts of today’s Supreme Court decision striking much of the Arizona immigration law but leaving the “papers please” provision intact. Cases working their way through the courts challenge the remaining part of the law.

Rea Carey, executive director of National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, called the law “draconian,” making more people vulnerable to abuse. She called it an “infringement of civil rights, and harassment and violence against those seen as different.”

“The bottom line is that Arizona’s anti-immigrant law is a license to discriminate,” Carey said in a statement. “Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people know all too well how easily those who are perceived to ‘look different’ or ‘act different’ can be singled out for persecution.

She said the ruling “spotlights the critical need for comprehensive immigration reform.”

Portions of the Arizona law that were struck down include making it a crime for an immigrant not to carry proof of status and making it a crime for undocumented immigrants to work or apply for work. Also unconstitutional is allowing police to arrest anyone they believe doesn’t have legal status, the court said.

Left in place is the “papers please” provision, which requires police to verify the immigration status of people stopped or arrested.

Ken Upton, senior staff attorney in Lambda Legal’s Dallas office, said that his organization filed a brief in conjunction with the lawsuit, although he was not involved in preparing the brief.

“But anything giving the government a chance to do racial profiling is problematic,” he said.

Additional lawsuits related to the surviving part of the law are still working their way through the courts, Upton said.

Lambda Legal released a statement signed by 30 other organizations.

“LGBT immigrants and LGBT people of color remain particularly vulnerable because this provision in SB 1070 requires police to stop and question people based on their appearance,” the release said.

According to the statement, the law also “exacerbate[s] the fear and distrust that dissuade[s] many LGBT immigrants and LGBT people of color from seeking protection from — or offering to assist — law-enforcement officials.”

Campaigning in Arizona, Mitt Romney had little to say about the decision other than states have a right to secure their borders, according to Associated Press.

President Barack Obama, whose administration brought the legal challenge against the Arizona law, said: “I agree with the court that individuals cannot be detained solely to verify their immigration status. No American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like.”

The decision comes just two weeks after Obama directed Homeland Security to redirect immigration enforcement away from those undocumented residents who entered the country as a child.

A decision that affects many people with HIV is expected sometime this week when the court rules on key provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

The full statement made by a coalition of LGBT and HIV organizations follows the jump:

—  David Taffet