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Nation & World

Texas Supreme Court Rules Against Benefits For Same-Sex Couples

Two plaintiffs had challenged the extension of Houston's taxpayer-subsidized benefits policy to married same-sex couples.
Two plaintiffs had challenged the extension of Houston's taxpayer-subsidized benefits policy to married same-sex couples.

The Texas Supreme Court on Friday sided with same-sex marriage opponents who argued that the city of Houston should not have extended its benefits policy to married same-sex couples. The court threw out a lower court ruling that had favored the benefits and sent the case back to a lower court.

The benefits policy was enacted by Houston's former, and first openly gay, mayor, Annise Parker, in 2013.

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal government must extend benefits to married same-sex couples. In 2015, the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. At issue is whether that ruling requires public agencies to provide benefits to same-sex spouses of government employees.

The plaintiffs — two taxpayers represented by same-sex marriage opponents — contend that Houston's benefits policy goes further than the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court's Obergefell decision requires. The Texas Supreme Court, in Pidgeon v. Houston, agreed.

As KUT explained, the Texas Supreme Court originally declined to hear the case, which upheld the lower court's decision, but reversed course "under pressure from top Texas Republicans":

"Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an amicus brief in October asking the all-Republican court to reconsider. They also asked the court to clarify that the U.S. Supreme Court case legalizing same-sex marriage, Obergefell v. Hodges, does not 'bind state courts to resolve all other claims in favor of the right to same-sex marriage.' "

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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