Central PA's LGBT News Source

Texas Court denies spousal benefits

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A unanimous Texas Supreme Court concluded June 30 that there is no established right to government-provided spousal benefits in same-sex marriages.
The 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that established the right to same-sex marriage did not decide all marriage-related matters, leaving room for state courts to explore the decision’s “reach and ramifications,” the all-Republican Texas court said.
Supporters of gay marriage have vowed to appeal such a ruling to the federal courts, arguing that the U.S. Supreme Court clearly stated that all marriages must be treated equally.
The case arose out of then-Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s 2013 decision to grant benefits to same-sex spouses of city employees who had married in other states.
A lawsuit encouraged by leading social conservatives in Houston prompted a state district judge to issue an injunction barring Houston from extending the benefits, saying Parker violated a state law and an amendment to the Texas Constitution that prohibited same-sex marriage or any action recognizing a same-sex union.
While an appeal from Houston was pending, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its June 2015 opinion that overturned state bans on gay marriage, prompting the appeals court to lift the injunction.
Two taxpayers, including Christian pastor Jack Pidgeon, next turned to the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court, which initially rejected their appeal in September, with only one member, Justice John Devine, dissenting.
A campaign by social and religious conservatives produced a barrage of emails asking the eight other justices to reconsider or risk a backlash in the next GOP primary. Leading Republicans — including Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton — joined the call, and in January the court issued a rarely granted motion to rehear the case and set oral arguments for March 1.