Supreme Court Declines to Hear Texas Case Regarding ‘Spousal’ Benefits of Homosexual Govt. Workers

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to weigh in on a ruling from the Texas Supreme Court expressing that the nation’s highest court has not made clear whether the “spouses” of homosexual government workers are entitled to benefits.

The nine justices denied the appeal of Turner v. Pidgeon without comment on Monday, along with dozens of other petitions for certiorari from across the country.

“We are very excited about our win today in front of the United States Supreme Court. The court decision confirms that the Texas Supreme Court’s 9-0 decision reversing the Court of Appeals was correct,” attorney Jared Woodfill said in a statement.

As previously reported, in 2013, Houston Mayor Annise Parker issued an order that required the city to provide benefits to homosexual city workers “legally married” out-of-state as same-sex nuptials were illegal in Texas at the time.

The following month, a pastor and an accountant filed suit against the city, stating that Parker’s order violated the Houston city charter, the Texas Defense of Marriage Act and the state Constitution.

State Judge Lisa Millard granted an injunction against Parker, but the city moved the legal challenge to federal court, resulting in the injunction becoming moot. However, the federal court moved the suit back to the state on jurisdictional grounds.

Following the 2015 Supreme Court ruling of Obergefell v. Hodges, an appeals court lifted the injunction and plaintiffs Jack Pidgeon and Larry Hicks took the matter to the state Supreme Court. The court declined to hear the appeal in September 2016, but supporters—with the agreement of Gov. Abbott urged the justices to reconsider.

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In January, the court agreed to rehear the case, and held an oral argument hearing in March. It then released its written opinion in June.

“We agree with the mayor [of Houston] that any effort to resolve whether and the extent to which the Constitution requires states or cities to provide tax-funded benefits to same-sex couples without considering Obergefell would simply be erroneous,” Justice Jeffrey Boyd wrote on behalf of the panel. “On the other hand, we agree … that the Supreme Court did not address and resolve that specific issue in Obergefell.”

“The Supreme Court held in Obergefell that the Constitution requires states to license and recognize same-sex marriages to the same extent that they license and recognize opposite-sex marriages, but it did not hold that states must provide the same publicly funded benefits to all married persons,” he said. “Of course, that does not mean … that the city may constitutionally deny benefits to its employees’ same-sex spouses. Those are the issues that this case now presents.”

The court unanimously sent the matter back to the trial court for further consideration.

Following the ruling, Houston appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the high court denied the petition.

“We’re grateful that the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed our lawsuit to go forward,” Texas Values President Jonathan Saenz, who is representing Pidgeon and Hicks, said in a statement on Monday. “Mayor Annise Parker defied the law by providing spousal benefits to same-sex couples at a time when same-sex marriage was illegal in Texas, and we intend hold the city accountable for Parker’s lawless actions and her unauthorized expenditures of taxpayer money.”

Sarah Kate Ellis of the homosexual advocacy group GLAAD decried the court’s denial as permitting other similar lawsuits at the state level.

“The Supreme Court has just let an alarming ruling by the Texas Supreme Court stand which plainly undercuts the rights of married same-sex couples,” she stated, according to the Dallas Observer. “Today’s abnegation by the nation’s highest court opens the door for an onslaught of challenges to the rights of LGBTQ people at every step.”

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  • Michael C

    Got it. The family members of straight Texas government employees get health insurance but the family members of gay Texas government employees do not.

    They can get all uppity with their marriage licenses but we’ll have the last laugh when we deny them health care. Yay morality!

    • I don’t think that this has anything to do with morality or getting back at people. It simply sounds like this issue is getting bogged down in a court system that can’t keep up with societal changes. After Obergefell, I can’t see anyone being denied benefits.

      • Michael C

        After Obergefell, I can’t see anyone being denied benefits

        What do you mean by this?

        • I think it is only a matter time before the courts catch up to the Supreme Courts Obergefell ruling and that eventually everyone will get benefits.

          I say that because it appears that this benefits case is stuck in a kind of limbo due to the fact that, as they article described, what the mayor did was wrong at the time, but now cannot necessarily be viewed as legally wrong because of the Obergefell ruling of the Supreme court. I guess we shall see how it plays out.

          • Michael C

            I understand. Thank you for elaborating.

    • Maxwell Edison

      A reminder of what people who identify themselves by their sexual behavior are entitled to:

      • Amos Moses – He>i

        ummmm …. ouch ……..

      • Silas Jennings

        You continue to expect homosexuals to feign attractions to the opposite sex?

    • bowie1

      I assume homosexual workers would still get benefits for themselves based on they are not considered married.

      • Michael C

        I would assume that all legally married couples would be treated equally, legally.

  • Nidalap

    Saying “gay marriage” is like saying tofu turkey.
    It’s just a weak simulacrum of the real thing…

    • mikegillespie

      Not even that. These people do not live in the real world.

    • Amos Moses – He>i

      i really dislike food that pretends to be other food …… tofurkey ….. YUCK ….. vege-burgers ….. any society that accepts that nonsense is definitely on the downward skids …… do not get me wrong …. i like tofu in certain dishes ….. when its tofu ….. but when it tries to become TVP …. and they try to mold it into what it is not ….. WRONG ………….

  • Jon Staples

    Meh… it’ll be back before the court as soon as a municipality says “you guys, you get spousal benefits, but you guys… you don’t”.

    So far, that has not happened, so there’s no case to accept.

    Stay tuned!

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  • TheKingOfRhye

    I always thought, even before Obergefell, that the Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution would have to mean that even states where SSM was not legal would have to fully recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states. (and thus give them the same benefits) However, I guess that’s not been interpreted that way at all. But, Obergefell renders that moot, of course, so I don’t see what legal standing a state would have to deny same-sex couples benefits. I mean, it’s right there in the 14th Amendment: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”

    • Amos Moses – He>i

      “I mean, it’s right there in the 14th Amendment: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.””

      and that should include christians and their FIRST amendment rights ….. and their rights to practice christianity without those rights being abridged ……. which should include NOT paying for others depravity and bad decisions with public money …. which is where their government benefits flow ……….

      • TheKingOfRhye

        Freedom to practice a religion doesn’t mean you get to infringe on the rights of others. Why is that so hard to understand? How did someone put it… your right to swing your fist ends at my nose.

        • Amos Moses – He>i

          and it means THEY DO NOT GET TO INFRINGE ON YOURS ……………

          • TheKingOfRhye

            I’m not sure what exactly you’re saying there.

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  • peanut butter

    If the Supreme Court doesn’t recognize spousal benefits, then this gay marriage thing must be a sham, huh? Let’s get it off the books. I know it is a displeasure to the Almighty.