Lambda Legal to file federal discrimination suit against officials of the Employee Retirement System of Texas


Ken Upton, Lambda Legal senior staff attorney

The Employee Retirement System of Texas discriminates against its LGBT employees by not offering equal pension benefits to same-sex couples.

Lambda Legal will announce today (Friday, June 19) that it is filing suit against the state retirement plan in federal court on behalf of Texas state employees and retirees. Ken Upton, senior staff attorney for Lambda Legal who works in the Dallas office, will announce the case at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, 501 W. Fifth St., Austin.

Pensions are federally regulated and subject to federal regulations. The federal government recognizes marriages performed in marriage equality states even if the state of residence is not a marriage equality state.

—  David Taffet

Israel appoints gay activist as labor court judge

(Dori Spivak) דורי ספיבק

While Israel’s executive branch has become quite conservative, it’s judicial branch always has been very liberal.

This week, LGBT rights activist Dori Spivak was appointed to the national labor court in Tel Aviv, according to the Israeli newspaper Ma’Ariv. While other openly gay judges have been appointed in the past, his appointment is being hailed as the first appointment of someone who has advocated for LGBT rights.

Spivak, a graduate of Harvard, is best known for serving as chairman of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. In 1997, he won a case in the Supreme Court that allowed Israeli television to air a program about gay teens.

Ma’Ariv, a moderate Israeli newspaper, opens its coverage of the appointment by saying, “The appointment of attorney Dori Spivak as judge to make waves.”

But the concerns the newspaper details have nothing to do with Spivak’s sexual orientation. They worry about his appointment to a court that has ruled in the past that a company doesn’t have a religion so that forbidding work on Sabbath is not relevant. They also voice concern over how he might rule on cases brought by settlers in the West Bank.

“Nevertheless, controversial political views should not disqualify a candidate for judicial office,” the newspaper concludes without mentioning anything about his sexual orientation.

All of Israel’s LGBT rights have been gained through the courts, including pension benefits for same-sex partners of military personnel, recognition of same-sex marriages performed elsewhere and adoption rights.

—  David Taffet