ERF vote

ERF board members are, from left, Chair Carla Brewer, former City Councilman Chris Luna, retiree Francis Pieters, Councilman Adam Medrano, retiree John Rogers, Omar Narvaez, Councilwoman Carolyn Davis and Councilman Lee Kleinman.

Married gay and lesbian Dallas city employees now receive the same pension benefits as employees in opposite-sex marriages. The Dallas City Council voted this morning, Feb. 18, after a short discussion by a margin of 11-3. Dwaine Caraway was absent because of the death of his father.

Three council members voted against the proposal — Sheffie Kadane, Vonciel Jones Hill and Rick Callahan.

The Dallas City Council voted to amend the definition of the term “spouse.” The IRS ruling that went into effect on Jan. 1 requiring all pension funds to treat same-sex married couples equally required benefits be offered to anyone who retired, as of the United States v Windsor decision in June 2013. The Dallas rule change allows anyone who was married at retirement to apply for those equal benefits.

Retiree Frances Pieters left Dallas City Hall and headed directly to the the Employee Retirement Fund office at Plaza of the Americas to submit her request for funds. Pieters retired before Windsor but was married before her retirement date.

The Dallas Police Department and Dallas Fire and Rescue have a separate pension fund. That board last week refused to come into compliance with IRS regulations, which puts the fund in jeopardy of losing its tax-exempt status. In addition, it means a surviving spouse of a fallen police officer or firefighter would not receive benefits.