Texas, Miss. National Guards won’t give same-sex benefits at some sites
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- The Texas National Guard refused to process requests from same-sex couples for benefits on Tuesday despite a Pentagon directive to do so, while Mississippi won’t issue applications from state-owned offices. Both states cited their respective bans on gay marriage.
Tuesday was the first working day that gays in the military could apply for benefits after the Pentagon announced it would recognize same-sex marriages. The Department of Defense had announced that it would recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where they are legal following the U.S. Supreme Court decision that threw out parts of the Defense of Marriage Act.
Texas and Mississippi appeared to be the only two states limiting how and where same-sex spouses of National Guard members could register for identification cards and benefits, according to an Associated Press tally. Officials in 13 other states that also ban gay marriage -- including Arizona, Oklahoma, Florida, Michigan and Georgia -- said Tuesday that they will follow federal law and process all couples applying for benefits the same.
Maj. Gen. John Nichols, the commanding general of Texas Military Forces, wrote to service members in a letter obtained by the AP that because the Texas Constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman, his state agency couldn’t process applications from gay and lesbian couples. But he said the Texas National Guard, Texas Air Guard and Texas State Guard would not deny anyone benefits.
Nichols wrote that his agency, which oversees Texas’ National Guard units, "remains committed to ensuring its military personnel and their families receive the benefits to which they are entitled. As such, we encourage anyone affected by this issue to enroll for benefits at a federal installation." He then listed 22 bases operated by the Department of Defense in Texas where service members could enroll their families.
Christie: Democratic rival’s ‘frolicking’ on beach comment a dig at his weight
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie accused his Democratic opponent Tuesday of making a mocking reference to his weight when she suggested that the image of him "frolicking on the beach" was not a boost to tourism.
State Sen. Barbara Buono denied taking aim at Christie’s size. Her campaign said she was questioning the effectiveness of tourism-promotion commercials featuring the governor and his family that ran all summer in an effort to bring visitors back to the Jersey Shore, parts of which were devastated by last fall’s Superstorm Sandy.
In a clip from a campaign event posted on YouTube last week, Buono says: "I don’t know about you, but seeing Chris Christie frolicking on the beach is not going to drive me to go to the shore."
Christie, the 50-year-old Republican governor and potential 2016 presidential contender, has long struggled with his weight -- and joked about it, too. During an appearance on "The Late Show with David Letterman," he pulled a doughnut out of his suit pocket and took a few bites.
"I’m very disappointed that she decided to go down that road, for me and for other folks across New Jersey, many folks, who are challenged by their weight," said Christie, who is noticeably slimmer since undergoing gastric band surgery in February. "The fact that someone running for governor would make derisive comments about someone’s physical appearance is really beneath the office she’s seeking."
Meeting between NAACP chapter and KKK organizer is believed to be a first
DENVER (AP) -- A meeting between the Wyoming chapter of the NAACP and an organizer for the Ku Klux Klan over the weekend is believed to be the first of its kind.
The meeting between Jimmy Simmons, president of the Casper NAACP, and John Abarr, a KKK organizer from Great Falls, Mont., took place at a hotel in Casper, Wyo., under tight security, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.
The Southern Poverty Law Center and the United Klans of America said Tuesday that the meeting is a first.
Abarr told The Associated Press that he met with Simmons Saturday and ended up filling out an NAACP membership form so he can get the group’s newsletters and some insight into its views. He said he paid the $30 fee to join, plus a $20 donation.
But Abarr said he didn’t ask anybody at the meeting if they would like to join the KKK.
Argument that use of N-word among blacks can be culturally acceptable is rejected
NEW YORK (AP) -- In a case that gave a legal airing to the debate over use of the N-word among blacks, a federal jury has rejected a black manager’s argument that it was a term of love and endearment when he aimed it at black employee.
Jurors awarded $30,000 in punitive damages Tuesday after finding last week that the manager’s four-minute rant was hostile and discriminatory, and awarding $250,000 in compensatory damages.
The case against Rob Carmona and the employment agency he founded, STRIVE East Harlem, hinged on the what some see as a complex double standard surrounding the word: It’s a degrading slur when uttered by whites but can be used at times with impunity among blacks.
But 38-year-old Brandi Johnson told jurors that being black didn’t make it any less hurtful when Carmona repeatedly targeted her with the slur during a March 2012 tirade about inappropriate workplace attire and unprofessional behavior.
Johnson, who taped the remarks after her complaints about his verbal abuse were disregarded, said she fled to the restroom and cried for 45 minutes.
Pennsylvania university kicks Rivera off JFK panel for half-nude cellphone picture
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Duquesne University says Geraldo Rivera isn’t welcome to appear on a panel at the Pittsburgh school because of a half-naked "selfie" he posted this summer.
Duquesne says the cellphone picture the TV personality posted on Twitter in July was inappropriate and not in line with the school’s values as a Catholic university. Rivera had been scheduled to moderate a panel to mark the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
Rivera says he learned of the cancellation last week. He couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Duquesne spokeswoman Bridget Fare didn’t immediately respond to a question about whether Rivera will be welcome at future events.