The sam-sex spouses of Dallas uniformed employees are now eligible for survivor benefits. The Dallas Police and Fire Pension System Board granted the benefits, effective immediately, Tuesday. The move follows a February 18 vote by the City Council to give same-sex spouses of civilian employees pension benefits.
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The board's vote comes after a month's long argument over extending the benefits, one that was effectively ended by an opinion issued by Dallas City Attorney Warren Ernst on Friday. In it, he told the DPFP board that it would likely lose a lawsuit brought against it by a member claiming his or her right to equal protection was being violated.
"It is my opinion that a court would find that federal law requires the DPFP plan to provide joint and survivor benefits to spouses of members regardless of the gender of the member and his or her spouse," he said.
DPFP chairman George Tomasovic said providing the benefits fixes a longstanding issue for the fund.
"Today's vote by the Board to approve same-sex spousal benefits was the right thing to do. It ensures that DPFP remains in compliance with federal law, but more importantly, it resolves a long-standing issue of fairness that has frustrated many of our members," Tomasovich said in a statement. "The Board's past reluctance to extend same-sex benefits was based solely on legal issues. Fortunately, recent developments have led the Board to believe we can provide our LGBT members the benefits they deserve without exposing DPFP to undue legal liabilities."