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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 27, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 04
Texas Supreme Court accepts case challenging spousal benefits for same-sex couples
Section One
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Texas Supreme Court accepts case challenging spousal benefits for same-sex couples

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Texas Supreme Court said on January 20 that it will review a case challenging taxpayer-funded benefits for same-sex couples in the city of Houston.

The suit was brought by an anti-LGBT group, Texas Values, and two Houston taxpayers. They claim their tax dollars are going to fund conduct they find abhorrent - namely, same-sex marriage - and that Lesbian and Gay marriages are still against Texas state law.

The suit initially prevailed in a Texas trial court, but that decision was reversed by an appeals court.

Texas Values boss Jonathan Saenz 'has been on a relentless crusade against LGBT rights ever since his wife dumped him for another woman,' Right Wing Watch reported.

'Texas deserves to have the rule of law upheld. Today's decision is an important step in defending our state's marriage laws and protecting taxpayers' right to not be forced by government to fund illegal same-sex benefits,' Saenz said in a statement after the Supreme Court agreed to hear his appeal.

'We thank the Texas Supreme Court for agreeing to hear this important case, and we thank Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and over 70 other elected officials and key leaders for their support in ensuring this important case was heard. We look forward to making our case directly before the Texas Supreme Court soon,' concluded Saenz.

On October 3, 2016, Texas Values formally asked the Texas Supreme Court to hear the case. Later that month, Abbott, Patrick, and Paxton filed a joint legal amicus brief in support of the lawsuit.

The brief urged the court to reinstate a temporary injunction on same-sex spousal benefits for Houston city employees until the court could offer more clarity.

The brief went on to say that while the US Supreme Court decision in Obergefell obligates the state to grant and recognize same-sex marriages, it does not bind state courts to offer spousal benefits to same-sex couples.

Texas courts should read Obergefell very narrowly, Texas Values argues, so that it does not 'create rights' that would be 'contrary to the values and traditions of Texans.'

In its defense, the City of Houston says that Obergefell requires it to treat married same-sex couples exactly the same as it treats married opposite-sex couples.

'The issue here is not whether employee benefits are a fundamental right,' the city's response brief explains. 'It is simply whether same-sex spouses must be allowed the same employee benefits as opposite-sex spouses.'

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