UT-Austin extending dental and health coverage to same-sex spouses



The University of Texas–Austin announced today (Monday, June 29) same-sex spouses and dependent children will be eligible for health and dental coverage, according to the Austin-American Statesman.

The changes go into effect July 1. Employees will have 31 days to enroll.

During the last legislative session, Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin, introduced HB 2692, which would have allowed universities to extend benefits to same-sex spouses. In turn, Rep. Phil Stephenson, R-Rosenberg, introduced HB 3890, which would have barred retirement benefits to same-sex spouses. Both died in committee.

—  James Russell

New poll reveals Texans’ attitudes changing on same-sex marriage

UT-TT-Polls-102214.010_1 A new poll from the UT-Austin and Texas Tribune reveals Texans’ attitudes are shifting on same-sex marriage and civil unions.

According to the Tribune, when asked if they support same-sex marriage, 47 percent of respondents said no, 42 percent said yes and 11 percent were undecided. When asked about civil unions, 39 percent say they would allow marriage, 28 percent would allow civil unions, 25 percent oppose both and 9 percent are undecided.

62 percent of Democrats would allow gay marriages, even with the alternative of civil unions available. Only 14 percent of Republicans would allow same-sex marriages over civil unions, but another 45 percent would allow civil unions. Voters who identify themselves as independents were closer to the Democrats on this question, with 53 percent approving of gay marriage and another 20 percent in favor of the civil unions option.

55 percent of frequent churchgoers say they oppose both marriage and civil unions for those couples. A majority of other churchgoers, including those who say they attend services once a week, would allow some form of unions.


The demographic breakdown reveals that “the culture war is a lot more complex than you think,” Daron Shaw, co-director of the poll and a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin, told the Tribune. “The way in which you execute it does matter. What you really find is that people are subtle. They appreciate conditions and context.”

The internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted  Oct. 10–19 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points. Among 866 likely voters, the margin of error is +/- 3.33 percent. In the split sample on marriage, the margin of error is +/- 3.99 percentage points on the civil unions question and +/- 4.02 percentage points on the question about gay marriage alone. Numbers in the charts might not add up to 100 percent because of rounding.

The poll is part of a series of report asking likely voters about political issues which can be read here.

—  James Russell

Michigan’s own witnesses make the case against it and for marriage equality

Mark Regnerus

Mark Regnerus

Discredited University of Texas researcher Mark Regnerus was called as Michigan’s star witness in a trial to determine whether that state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage is legal.

Regnerus study showed that children whose heterosexual parents ever had a same-sex relationship had poorer developmental outcomes than children whose parents remained faithful. The study was discredited by the American Sociological Association who claimed “there is no evidence that children with parents in stable same-sex or opposite-sex relationships differ in terms of well-being.”

His own department at UT issued a statement at the time that said, “Dr. Regnerus’ opinions are his own. They do not reflect the views of the university.”

Regnerus didn’t study children born into an LGBT family or adopted by same-sex parents. His study was comparing children from families that remained intact to those from families that had dissolved and a same-sex relationship may have occurred.

In his testimony, Regnerus was asked if he was aware of any data showing marriage equality reduces the number of children “raised in heterosexual biological parent families.”

“I’m unaware of that,” Regnerus testified.

The plaintiffs’ attorney then asked whether excluding same-sex couples from marrying would promote what Regnerus believes is the ideal environment for children.

“I don’t know,” he answered.

Regnerus also testified he’s not a fan of invitro fertilization because it reduces kinship. Nor does he really care for adoption because biological parents are more willing to sacrifice for their children.

Another witness for the state was a Brigham Young University economist Joseph Price who responded to a question about why economic benefits should be denied to same-sex couples.

“Women have a domesticating effect on men,” Price said.

The state’s final anti-gay witness was a Canadian economist who was asked if he believed gay people were going to hell.

“Without repentance, yes,” he said.

In other words, count on Michigan to become one of the next marriage equality states.

—  David Taffet

Dallas Morning News’ Tod Robberson spits on gay parents for Father’s Day

Rose---Scott-INSETGoogle the name of Dallas News editorial writer Tod Robberson with the phrase “gay rights” and you will find zero relevant results.

It was shocking to see that over the Father’s Day 2013 weekend, Robberson published a piece titled “Mark Regnerus: Defending my Research on Same-Sex Parenting.”

The scientific community is way past having documented that Regnerus’s New Family Structure Study — funded by the virulently anti-gay, NOM- and Catholic Church-linked Witherspoon Institute — is an academic hoax, the defamatory anti-gay nature of its findings determined before data collection had even been done.

In fact, documents had via Freedom of Information Act requests to Regnerus’ UT revealed that in August 2011 — before study data collection had occurred — Regnerus and Witherspoon’s Brad Wilcox traveled to Colorado for a full day meeting about promoting the study in the media with Focus on the Family’s Glenn Stanton. Then, in September 2010, Regnerus e-mailed Wilcox telling him that he wanted to know more about Witherspoon President Luis Tellez’s and Maggie’s “hopes for what emerges from this project.” (Regnerus refuses to answer questions about just who his “Maggie” is, increasing suspicions that it is NOM’s notorious anti-gay liar Maggie Gallagher).

The worst part of the lack of integrity involved in the Regnerus hoax is found in its having being published by editor James Wright, of the University of Central Florida, in Elsevier’s journal Social Science Research on the false pretense that it had received valid peer review prior to publication. Michael Schwartz, chair of sociology at Stony Brook University, is on record calling for the Regnerus paper to be retracted and for Wright to be removed from his position for his documented editorial misconduct in publishing Regnerus. Gary Gates of UCLA’s Williams Institute submitted an essay to Wright about his publication of Regnerus titled An Illegitimate Review Process. Wright refused to publish Gates’ essay.

Even were it not for the documented misconduct involved, on the purely scientific side every major professional group that has evaluated the Regnerus paper has concluded that the paper has nothing to say about same-sex parents — and yet Robberson chose to regurgitate, in publication, the known fraudulent claim that Regnerus did “research on same-sex parenting.”

Here is what the American Sociological Association has to say in its Prop 8 and DOMA cases amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court: “by conflating children raised by same-sex parents with individuals who reportedly had a parent who had ‘a romantic relationship with someone of the same sex,’ and referring to such individuals as children of ‘lesbian mothers’ or ‘gay fathers,’ the Regnerus study obscures the fact that it did not specifically examine children raised by two same-sex parents. Accordingly, it cannot speak to the impact of same-sex parenting on child outcomes.”

Robberson in his article presents Regnerus as though Regnerus had no connection to the political uses being made of his hoax study, when in fact, Regnerus filed a Supreme Court amicus brief alleging that on the basis of his study, the U.S. government should continue to discriminate against DOMA plaintiff Edith Windsor, who has no children.

Laurie Essig of Middlebury College e-mailed Robberson with her concerns about his counterfactual presentation of Regnerus and the study. Robberson blew her off by trying to assert that the lies he published are not lies. The documentation shows otherwise, it is in my possession and also is not hard to find on the Internet.

Robberson refused to comment for my piece. Shame on him and on the Dallas News for publishing their article in defense of Regnerus’s gay-bashing junk science on Father’s Day weekend.

Scott Rose is a New York City-based novelist, investigative reporter and freelance writer. He can be reached at  newyorkcitywriter@earthlink.net

—  John Wright

Lesbian ex-track coach’s complaints allege ‘double standard’ at UT

Bev Kearney was forced to resign over relationship with athlete, while football coach got only a reprimand

From staff and wire reports

AUSTIN — Former University of Texas women’s track coach Bev Kearney has filed race and gender discrimination complaints against the school with federal and state officials, the first step toward her pursuing a lawsuit.

Kearney, who is black, filed complaints Tuesday, March 12, with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Texas Workforce Commission. By law, those agencies must have the case for 180 days before she can sue.

Bev Kearney

Bev Kearney

Kearney, resigned Jan. 5 as Texas prepared to fire her for an inappropriate relationship with one of her female athletes in 2002. In addition to her race and gender, Kearney has publicly questioned whether she was targeted because of her sexual orientation. However, there is no law prohibiting anti-gay job discrimination in Texas.

The university later revealed that assistant football coach Major Applewhite, who is white, was allowed to keep his job after having an inappropriate relationship with a female student trainer on a bowl trip in 2008. Applewhite was reprimanded in 2009 by athletic director DeLoss Dodds and his pay was frozen for a year.

“We think there is a double standard at the University of Texas, giving men the opportunity to engage in inappropriate relationships without fear of being caught or punished,” Kearney attorney Derek Howard said Saturday.

University of Texas officials said the allegations “will be reviewed thoroughly,” said Patti Ohlendorf, university vice president for legal affairs.

“The university reviews allegations and reports of unprofessional relationships on a case-by-case basis and did so after the relationship was reported to the athletics (department) administration last fall,” Ohlendorf said in a statement issued Saturday.

Kearney, who was hired at Texas in 1993, won six national championships with the Longhorns. She had been recommended for a large raise until the relationship was reported to the school in October and she was suspended in November.

Although Kearney and the school described the relationship as consensual, Ohlendorf said in January the school could not condone a coach having a relationship with an athlete, saying it “crosses the line of trust placed in the head coach for all aspects of the athletic program and the best interests of the student athletes on the team.”

School officials have said they don’t believe Kearney had any similar relationships with other student athletes.

In Applewhite’s case, his relationship with the student trainer wasn’t publicly revealed until 2013. According to a 2009 document in his personnel file released by the school last month, Applewhite was ordered by Dodds to undergo counseling and warned that a repeat offense would have more serious consequences.

Applewhite, a former Texas quarterback, was the Longhorns’ running backs coach and in his first season with the team in 2008 when Texas went the Fiesta Bowl. He is now Texas’ offensive coordinator. Applewhite has said the relationship was a “one-time” occurrence.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Ex-UT coach wonders if she was forced out because she’s a lesbian

On Tuesday I speculated that Bev Kearney, who resigned last weekend as women’s track coach at the University of Texas over an affair with a student-athlete 10 years ago, may have been treated unfairly by the school because of her sexual orientation. In other words, while the relationship was clearly inappropriate — a fact which Kearney herself acknowledges — would she have been forced to step down if she were a Hall of Fame male coach who’d won six national championships and whose affair with a female athlete was brought to light a decade later?

Coincidentally, just as I was posting my item, Kearney was appearing on CNN’s Starting Point, where she would essentially go public with the same question.

“Is it because I have a disability? Is it because I’m black? Is it because I’m female? Is it because I’m successful? Is it now because of my sexual preference?” Kearney asked CNN’s Soledad O’Brien. “I had to finally come to embrace not knowing why, and I had to embrace it because the more you try to figure out why, the harder it is to forgive.”

—  John Wright

Independents, urban dwellers fuel jump in support for same-sex marriage in TX

A poll released in October showed that 69 percent of Texas voters support some form of relationship recognition for same-sex couples.

A three-year analysis of University of Texas/Texas Tribune polls shows that support for same-sex unions has risen most significantly among Independents and urban dwellers.

A poll released in October found a record 69 percent of Texas voters favor some sort of relationship recognition for same-sex couples, either civil unions or same-sex marriage, which is a record high. Of those polled, 75 percent of Democrats favored recognition, compared to 64 percent of Independents and Republicans, though only 15 percent of Republicans support marriage equality.

More graphics breaking down the poll results are below.

—  Dallasvoice

Record number of Texas voters back legal recognition for gay couples

A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll this week showed nearly 70 percent of Texans support legal recognition for same-sex couples – the highest percentage since polls began asking the questions in 2009.

The Tribune’s poll showed 36 percent support same-sex marriage and 33 percent support civil unions, for a total of 69 percent in favor of relationship recognition. Although with 25 percent against marriage or civil unions, the data could be interrupted as 58 percent against same-sex marriage.

Still, the findings in support of relationship recognition are 6 points higher than the second-highest result in February 2010, when a Tribune poll found 63 percent of Texans supported relationship recognition, with 28 percent in favor of marriage and 35 percent supporting civil unions.

The new poll is also 9 points higher than a Tribune poll from this February, which showed 31 percent supporting marriage and 29 percent favoring unions, totaling 60 percent in favor.

Erin Moore, who serves as co-chair of National Stonewall Democrats Leadership Council and was a member of the national Platform Committee, said polls are not a good basis for argument, but help get conversations started.

“I think it’s a great gauge of attitude, but I don’t think we should use it as ammunition for a basis for any sort of argument,” she said.

Moore said she questions the new poll because the percentage for marriage equality and civil unions were equal, as it has been in past years. She said she worries if people are against relationship recognition but choose civil unions to not appear bigoted.

“I wonder how much of that is support and how much of that is let me pick the non-bigoted answer but still not say I’m in favor of marriage,” she said.

As for the 9-point jump in support from February and the highest percentage in favor of marriage equality, Moore said that high a jump is a “significant shift” and that President Barack Obama’s public support for same-sex marriage and local efforts have helped the movement.

“What I attribute it to is that we’re continuing to do our work and get out into communities and to let people know that separate but equal doesn’t work in that we are full-fledged citizens who deserve rights that everybody else has, and that word is getting out,” she said.

In May 2011, a Tribune poll found 61 percent of Texans supported gay relationships with the support split between 30 percent backing  marriage and 31 percent favoring civil unions.

A Texas Lyceum poll in October 2010 found that Texans supported gay relationships by 52 percent. More than half at 28 percent supported marriage equality and 24 percent supported civil unions.

An Equality Texas poll released in December 2010 asked Texans 12 questions related to LGBT equality. The survey didn’t give an either/or option, but rather asked each question separately, resulting in 43 percent supporting gay marriage and 63 percent favoring civil unions.

In 2009, a Texas Politics Poll found 61 percent of people supported relationship recognition, with 29 percent for marriage equality and 32 percent for civil unions. A Texas Lyceum poll the same year found 57 percent in support, with 25 percent for marriage and 32 percent for civil unions.

—  Dallasvoice

For 7th time in 3 years, poll shows most Texans support legal gay unions

Yet another poll has found that a solid majority of Texans support legal recognition — where it be marriage or civil unions — for same-sex couples.

Results from a University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll released today show that 36 percent of Texans support same-sex marriage, while another 33 percent support civil unions but not marriage. Twenty-five percent said they oppose all forms of legal relationship recognition — both marriage and civil unions — for same-sex couples.

The UT/TT poll surveyed 800 voters from Oct. 15-21 and has a margin of error of 4.22 percentage points.

It’s at least the seventh poll since 2009 that has showed that a solid majority of Texans  support civil unions or marriage — with the figure consistently hovering around 60 percent — which might lead one to wonder why they don’t ask a new LGBT-related question.

In case these pollsters haven’t noticed, Texas has a constitutional amendment banning both same-sex marriage and civil unions. Overturning the amendment would require a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate, as well as a simple majority of voters,  which is extremely unlikely to happen anytime in the foreseeable future.

Therefore, we’d suggest they ask something more relevant, such as, “Would you support a law banning employment discrimination against LGBT people?”

—  John Wright

Mark Regnerus admits his study was BS, but stands behind his findings

Mark Regnerus

In an interview with Focus on the Family’s Citizen Link, University of Texas professor Mark Regnerus admitted that his recent study on gay parenting was flawed.

In the interview, he said he’d be more careful about the language he used.

“I said ‘lesbian mothers’ and ‘gay fathers,’ when in fact, I don’t know about their sexual orientation,” he said.

Despite that, Regnerus added, “But as far as the findings themselves, I stand behind them.”

The study compared the children of stable heterosexual couples to children of parents who had a gay or lesbian relationship at some time in the past. Regnerus claims he didn’t use more children of stable same-sex partners because, “they just were not that common in the nationally representative population.”

He claimed he found only two cases of lesbian couples who had been partnered 18 years. However, Census figures show that more than 6,800 same-sex couples are raising children in the state’s three largest metropolitan areas. He called looking for those couples like “looking for a needle in a haystack.” But he never was looking for same-sex couples in healthy relationships who are raising children.

He does say that the point of his study is misquoted. Groups like Focus on the Family claim the study proves straight people make better parents than gay people.

“I take pains in the study to say this is not about saying gay or lesbian parents are inherently bad,” Regnerus said. “It is not a study about parenting or parenthood or parenting practices. I didn’t measure parenting practices.”

Now he claims the study was about comparing children of “intact biological families” to those whose parents divorced. But he was looking specifically for divorced parents who had a same-sex relationship along the way, whether or not they identified as gay or ever came out.

The problem with his study is that he only looked for people who were originally married, then divorced and along the way had a same-sex relationship. He was not looking for stable, openly gay or lesbian couples who were raising children. Because it would have been as easy for him to find those couples in Texas as anywhere else in the country.

—  David Taffet