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Marriage equality soon, museum gets $10 million, severance pay scrutinized, and more 

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Marriage equality cometh

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review lower court decisions in five states that made same-sex marriage legal. The move immediately made gay marriage legal in those states, and effectively made it legal, pending a few formalities, in other states where a federal appeals court had OK'd it.

Colorado made it legal the day after the ruling, and the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office began offering marriage licenses to same-sex couples Tuesday morning. The marriages should soon be offered in 29 other states as well.

Tom Russell, a law professor at the University of Denver and one of the lawyers who litigated same-sex marriage cases in Colorado, believes there's an even bigger impact in the Supreme Court's move: It has hinted that a majority of justices support same-sex marriage, so lower courts in all states are unlikely to uphold any bans. In fact, he thinks they're actually likely to issue summary judgments in favor of marriage.

"This effectively makes same-sex marriage constitutional throughout the United States," he says.

Litigation on marriage has been filed in every state, he says; the only question is which will be the last to legalize it. — JAS

Stopping the severance

City Councilor Helen Collins' proposal to ban severance pay to city workers, termed the "City Theft Prevention Ordinance," is drawing skepticism from colleagues.

Though Councilor Andy Pico calls Mayor Steve Bach's $1.66 million in severance pay to 86 workers an "abuse of the system" ("Another expensive exit," News, Oct. 1), he also says there needs to be "flexibility" to pay severance if Council approves it. Meanwhile, Councilor Jan Martin says Collins' proposal covers too much ground and includes a clause barring transactions like the one involving Colorado Springs Utilities' conveyance of Jones Park to another entity.

Collins wants Council to adopt an ordinance effective Jan. 1, followed by a ballot measure amending the City Charter at the April 2015 city election. — PZ

Museum gets $10 million

Fundraising efforts for the downtown U.S. Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame got a boost last week when El Pomar Foundation donated $10 million. The project is to receive about $50 million allocated by the state from tax increment financing over 30 years, meaning about $20 million will be available for the museum in the next few years through a bond issue, says Dick Celeste, who's heading the museum project.

Celeste says another $40 million needs to be raised, which includes $10 million for an endowment.

The donation from El Pomar came two weeks after Nor'wood Development Group donated land southwest of downtown for the museum. Termed "a powerful economic driver" by El Pomar chairman and CEO Bill Hybl, the museum is part of the $250 million City for Champions venture, which also includes a downtown stadium, Air Force Academy visitors center and sports medicine clinic at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Celeste says Margot Lane, a local philanthropist active in numerous organizations, also has given $1 million to the museum. — PZ

Carson using animals again

Fort Carson is conducting controversial "live tissue training," the base confirms.

LTT involves injuring animals, usually pigs or goats, so that military personnel can use them in medical training. The animals are euthanized following the training. Other training methods instead use life-like models, which have been endorsed by groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

In an email, Fort Carson officials stated, "There is live tissue training currently being conducted by the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team at Fort Carson. All training conducted is in accordance with established protocols and all applicable federal laws, to include the Animal Welfare Act of 1966 with changes in 1970 and amendments in 1976, 1985, and 1990. Protocols for use of animals in training are reviewed, approved and supervised by Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) as required by law."

Fort Carson would not comment on the details of the training, though one official said those in it may not be medical personnel, but simply those who might need to perform medical procedures. She added that Fort Carson was following a Department of Defense instruction. However, what she described appears to violate a very straightforward Army policy set last year that limited LTT to physicians, physician assistants, oral surgeons, dentists, nurse practitioners, nurses and some combat medics. — JAS

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