Supreme Court backs same-sex marriage benefits
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled a major provision of the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, cheering supporters of same-sex marriage nationwide.
The court determined 5-4 that it was a violation of equal protection under the law to deny federal benefits to gay and lesbian couples in states where they are legally married.
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) was among those in Queens who hailed the ruling.
“Love, happiness and equality reign supreme!” the councilman declared on his website, jimmyvanbramer.com. A message from Van Bramer and his husband, environmental activist Dan Hendrick, said in part, “Today’s Supreme Court ruling is an incredibly powerful one that overturns the horrendously wrong Defense of Marriage Act and renders more fully equal all Americans regardless of their sexual orientation.”
The five justices voting to overturn the 1996 law were Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Dissenting were Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito
City to recalculate 911 response time
The city is going to change the way it determines emergency response times, following a hearing before the City Council Committees on Fire and Criminal Justice, Public Safety and Technology, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) announced Monday.
The administration, which has touted low response times as justification for proposals including the closure of fire companies, had not been counting the time people spend on the phone with 911 operators in its statistics. Now it will, said Crowley, who chairs the Fire and Criminal Justice Committee.
“The city has cited low response times as a reason to reduce resources for our first responders, but those numbers deceptively left out critical time a caller spent with the 911 operator before being sent to a dispatcher,” Crowley said in announcing the change. “Accurate response times will give us the data we need to ensure the NYPD and FDNY have the personnel and resources they need to quickly respond to emergencies and that all areas of the city are safe.”
LIPA plan good for Rockaway, pol saysThe Long Island Power Authority, which provides power to the Rockaway peninsula, will be restructured under a measure that has passed the state Assembly and is supported by the Senate and Gov. Cuomo, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway) announced Monday.
LIPA came under scathing criticism for its performance following Hurricane Sandy, both in that southernmost part of Queens and across Long Island.
According to Goldfeder, the legislation would privatize LIPA’s day-to-day operations and long-term planning, stabilize electric delivery rates, improve customer service, refinance LIPA’s higher interest rate debt and strengthen oversight of the utility. It would be overseen by a new Office of the Department of Public Service, charged with reviewing and making recommendations on the operations, service and performance of LIPA and its service provider, Public Service Electric and Gas.
Survivors urged to seek 9/11 funds
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Queens, Manhattan), other officials and activist groups gathered at 7 World Trade Center on Monday to remind eligible survivors of and responders to the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks to apply for compensation under the James Zadroga Act as soon as possible. The deadline to request benefits from the Victim Compensation Fund is Oct. 3, they noted.