Paxton cheers Texas Supreme Court ruling on same-sex benefits

Posted July 01, 2017

The Texas Supreme Court said Friday that the parties needed a chance to argue the merits of a case over a Houston policy providing employees in same-sex marriages spousal benefits.

The court unanimously reached the decision on Friday in the case Pidgeon v. Turner, which challenged a decision by the City of Houston to provide its public employees' same-sex spouses the same benefits that it provides to those of the opposite sex.

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.

Footnote 21: On the same day the Supreme Court issued its per curiam opinion in Pavan, it also granted certiorari in another case involving a same-sex-marriage issue Obergefell did not address. But the state's highest civil court reversed course in January after receiving an outpouring of letters opposing the decision. The parties' arguments address the meaning and ramifications of Obergefell, which was not announced until after the parties had filed their briefs in the court of appeals.

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The case was taken by two men who objected to Houston's decision to comply with the Obergefell decision because they are "devout Christians who have been compelled by the mayor's unlawful edict to subsidize homosexual relationships that they regard as immoral and sinful".

The Texas Supreme Court has ruled that the financial benefits of marriage do not have to be granted to same-sex couples on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples.

Those who opposed the marriage benefits policy over moral and tax related concerns, such as Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values, celebrated the court's ruling.

The Court reaffirmed that view just this month, ruling against an Arkansas birth certificate law that discriminated against gay parents.

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The state Supreme Court's ruling essentially wipes that slate clean and instructs the trial court to reconsider the case. "From time immemorial, family law has been left to the states". Previously, they were granted only to opposite-sex couples. Yet by virtue of their exclusion from that institution, same-sex couples are denied the constellation of benefits that the States have linked to marriage.

One of the plaintiffs in this case, Boyd continues, "contends that neither the Constitution nor Obergefell requires citizens to support same-sex marriages with their tax dollars, but he has not yet had the opportunity to make his case".

Advocates are likely to push for the case to be appealed to federal courts.

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