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The Brief: July 1, 2015

Texas public employees' same-sex spouses can begin enrolling for benefits today after last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriages.

Janelle Boone left hold her head up with joy after obtaining her marriage license with her partner Christine Wylie at the Travis County Clerk's office on June 26, 2015 the same day the US Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriages as legal

The Big Conversation

Following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, Texas' public employers were trying to figure out when their employees' same-sex spouses would be able to get benefits.

But as the Tribune's Alexa Ura reports, most of those employers are opening enrollment today:

As of today, public employers including Texas agencies, universities and schools will allow current and retired gay and lesbian employees to enroll their same-sex spouses in the same benefit programs and services available to opposite-sex couples.

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas, the University of Texas System, the Texas A&M University System and the Employees Retirement System — which oversees benefits for state employees and all other public universities and community colleges — changed their policies days after the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry and that states must recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

Prior to the court’s ruling, Texas law prohibited same-sex spouses from being included as an “eligible dependent” on health insurance plans subsidized by the state. (Texas pays 50 percent of the health insurance premiums for state employees.)

It's unclear how many people will enroll, although the employers said they've heard interest from some already.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University are corporate sponsors of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Trib Must-Reads

7 Things We Learned From Ted Cruz's New Book, by Patrick Svitek and Abby Livingston — His father's youthful misguided allegiance to Fidel Castro, the overdose death of a half-sister and blunt observations on Congress and fellow Republicans are all contained between the covers of a memoir released as Ted Cruz runs for president.

At Majority-Minority Schools, Confederate Names Remain, by Matthew Watkins, Mallory Busch and Annie Daniel — The Texas Tribune identified 28 schools in Texas named after Confederate leaders Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson and Albert Sidney Johnston. Of those, four have a majority of white students.

Big Schools Don't Fry, by Liz Crampton — Soda machines and deep fat fryers are now allowed back in Texas public schools, thanks to Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller's reversal of a 10-year ban. But many school districts say they have no appetite for reinstating the unhealthy choices for students.


Colleges Brace for Supreme Court Review of Race-Based Admissions, The New York Times

Texas abortion providers study whether clinics could reopen, The Associated Press

Hood County clerk now says her office will issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, The Dallas Morning News

Kennedy: As Hood County’s clerk preached, others in Texas just fumed, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Many Texas counties unprepared to issue same-sex marriage licenses, Houston Chronicle

Texas government moves quickly to add same-sex benefits for employees, Austin American-Statesman

Sons of Confederate Veterans will push for new license plate, The Dallas Morning News

Judge issues gag order in Texas biker shooting case, The Associated Press

Ted Cruz Comes to the Defense of Donald Trump, The New York Times

Despite all the rhetoric, Texas gun ownership rates just above national average, Houston Chronicle

Texas Supreme Court overturns licensing requirements for eyebrow threaders, Houston Chronicle

The Interesting Stuff Inside Jeb Bush's Tax Returns, National Journal

We Got Presidential Hopeful Ted Cruz To Do An Audition For “The Simpsons," BuzzFeed

Quote to Note

"I like Donald Trump. I think he’s terrific, I think he’s brash, I think he speaks the truth."

— U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz defending fellow presidential contender Donald Trump's recent comments on immigrants

News From Home

•    Learn more about what happened to pre-kindergarten reform, school choice legislation and other public education issues using our Texas Legislative Guide.

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