DALLAS (AP) — Two Dallas city pension funds have delayed enacting measures passed by the city council aimed at ensuring equal rights for municipal employees.
The council earlier this year adopted a nonbinding resolution seeking equal treatment for gay, bisexual and transgender employees. It followed that vote with another Wednesday that amends personnel rules to prohibit discrimination.
The resolution was drafted by John Rogers, who has since retired as a Dallas assistant city attorney. He’s now pushing for adoption of the rights called for by the resolution he wrote, a move that would benefit his husband and him.
“There’s no reason they can’t implement this,” he told The Dallas Morning News. “For some reason, the pension board is stonewalling on it. It’s ridiculous, and they need to just fix it.”
But leaders of the city’s two pension funds — one for civilian employees and the other for public safety workers — say changing the plans is a complicated process.
One obstacle is that the changes would allow same-sex spouses who outlive city pensioners to receive lifetime benefits. But Texas doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.
Pension lawyers are advising a cautious approach in light of recent federal court rulings.
For instance, in February a U.S. district judge in San Antonio held that gay couples were stigmatized for no legitimate reason by the state’s 2005 constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman, and by a 2003 law that barred recognition of same-sex marriages from other states.
But the judge stayed his ruling pending appeal. Legal experts say the Supreme Court may later rule more definitively on gay marriage.
Carla Brewer, chairwoman of the civilian pension fund for Dallas workers, said the fund is seeking legal clarification before proceeding, according to the Morning News.
She said pension benefits are “a long-term issue … These are given for life. So we want to make sure that if we tell our employees or our retirees, ‘Here’s what you’re eligible for,’ that they can count on that.”
Dallas voters would have to OK changes to the civilian pension fund.
Any changes to the fund for public safety workers must be approved by that fund’s members.