Justices reject Houston appeal over benefits for gay spouses
05 December, 2017, 02:41 | Author: Kim Reid
"The Supreme Court held ... that the Constitution requires states to license and recognize same-sex marriages to the same extent that they license and recognize opposite-sex marriages, but it did not hold that states must provide the same publicly funded benefits to all married persons", Justice Jeff Boyd wrote for the court.
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal of a Texas Supreme Court ruling that said the right to marry did not mean same-sex couples also had the right to spousal benefits.
Texas' Supreme Court said the justices did not decide that issue. "Today's abnegation by the nation's highest court opens the door for an onslaught of challenges to the rights of LGBTQ people at every step". As the link to Equality Case Files notes, it's possible they simply denied review because the case was remanded back to the lower courts so that it could reach the other courts again eventually. Houston has continued to provide benefits to all of its married employees through-out the pending litigation.
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The Houston case began in 2013 when Jack Pidgeon, a local Christian pastor, and Larry Hicks, an accountant, sued the city after Annise Parker, a Democrat who was its first openly gay mayor, gave municipal spousal benefits such as health insurance and life insurance to same-sex married couples.
The Texas high court had initially been reluctant to take the case, but made a decision to do so under pressure from Republican officials and antigay activists, including the Texas governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general.
Lawyers for Pidgeon and Hicks told the state Supreme Court that the Obergefell ruling should be interpreted narrowly and did not require states to give taxpayer subsidies to same-sex couples any more than the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion required states to subsidize abortions.
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"We'll be meeting with our clients and our team on how to go forward", he said. The Texas Supreme Court even admitted it only took up the case after receiving "emails, letters and postcards" from individual citizens.
"The court's action should not be seen as the final word, but instead is just another milepost on the road to understanding what benefit plan rights are part of same-gender marriages". That lawsuit had been revived by the Texas Supreme Court earlier this year.
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