The Texas Supreme Court issued a disturbing ruling on Friday, declaring there exists no clear right to spousal benefits for married same-sex couples.
The unanimous decision sprung from a challenge to spousal benefits that Houston provided to city employees. Even though the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court ruling legalized same-sex marriage throughout the nation — and extended all the rights that go along with marriage — conservatives in Houston continue to challenge spousal benefits, claiming Obergefell was not the last answer on whether same-sex marriages offer the same rights as other marriages.
“We decline to instruct the trial court how to construe Obergefell on remand,” said the opinion, written by Justice Jeff Boyd.
The case now heads to the Harris County district court, which must determine if Obergefell guarantees same-sex spousal benefits to Houston city employees. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Arkansas must recognize both parents in a same-sex couple on birth certificates, even though the state had claimed that privelege extended only to couples with a man and woman.
The Texas Supreme Court, which the Austin American-Statesman reports is filled with Republicans, initially refused to hear the challenge to Obergefell's reach but changed its mind after being threatened by the antigay conservatives bringing the case. Texas supreme court justices are elected, not appointed.
"The freedom to marry is settled law," Kasey Suffredini, Freedom for All Americans’ acting CEO, said in a statement. "The actions the Texas Supreme Court took today directly challenge our nation’s highest legal authority, and they’re part of a broader effort we’re seeing to challenge the rights and dignity of LGBT people in the Lone Star State. Earlier this week, we saw the U.S. Supreme Court rebuke an Arkansas court that was attempting to ignore settled law and blatantly allow for discrimination against legally married same-sex couples and their children. It’s disheartening – but sadly, not unbelievable – that just days later, we’re seeing a Texas court attempt a similarly grotesque action."
GLAAD: "Decision this morning is a warning shot to all LGBTQ Americans that the war on marriage equality is ever-evolving" https://t.co/nWzzv4FeRI
— Chuck Lindell (@chucklindell) June 30, 2017