Monday, December 4, 2017

U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Texas Case on Same-Sex Benefits

Posted By on Mon, Dec 4, 2017 at 12:00 PM

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The U.S. Supreme Court has decided against hearing a Texas case to allow same-sex spouses of government employees the same benefits that opposite-sex spouses receive — like dental, health and life insurance.

The court's Monday decision, which came without any comment from court justices, allows a Texas Supreme Court ruling calling for a more in-depth discussion on what rights are allowed to same-sex spouses to stand.

The Texas case was brought by Houston anti-LGBT lobbyists in 2013 against the City of Houston and then-mayor Annise Parker for granting the same benefits to both same-sex and opposite-sex spouses of city employees. By the end of August 2016, nearly 600 same-sex spouses had enrolled in these plans. 

According to lawyers for the anti-LGBT groups, Texans who don't believe in gay marriage shouldn't have to be "subsidizing same-sex marriage" with their tax dollars. In June 2017, pressure from Texas GOP leaders who oppose gay marriage pushed the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court to agree with them, despite having originally rejected the case in 2016. The state court specifically ruled that the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision requiring states to legally recognize same-sex marriages to the same extent as they do opposite-sex marriage says nothing explicitly about "publicly funded benefits." The Texas court ordered a trial to reconsider the case — and fully flesh out the rights Obergefell granted same-sex couples.

Lawyers for the city of Houston appealed this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court shortly after. But, it appears, the highest court in the country has sided with the Texas Supreme Court's interest in letting state courts hash out the limits of same-sex marriage rights.

Chuck Smith, CEO of Equality Texas, said he's not too concerned about Monday's rejection of the Houston case. He told the Current he hopes the court refused to hear the case because it had already made a concrete decision on same-sex marriage two years ago — and there was no need to re-examine.

"The Supreme Court's inaction doesn't really change anything," Smith said. "No law was created today. Obergefell is still the law of the land. We're not going backwards."

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