HOUSTON — In a see-saw battle over the matter, a state judge in Texas has ordered the outspoken lesbian mayor of Houston along with other city officials to stop providing life and health insurance benefits to the partners of homosexual employees.
Houston mayor Annise Parker—who has been in the headlines recently after attorneys for the city requested copies of sermons from certain pastors during the discovery phase of a lawsuit surrounding a petition seeking to overturn Houston’s “bathroom bill”—issued an order last November that required the city to provide the benefits to homosexual city workers “legally married” out-of-state.
But the following month, several entities 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.
According to reports, 13 city employees who identify as homosexual have traveled out of state to tie the knot. Same-sex “marriage” is not legal in Texas, although the matter is currently under appeal after a state judge struck down the Texas marriage amendment as unconstitutional earlier this year.
State Judge Lisa Millard granted an injunction against Parker last year, but the city moved the legal challenge to federal court, resulting in the injunction becoming moot. But the federal court moved the suit back to the state in August on jurisdictional grounds.
However, a second lawsuit was also filed over the matter, this time from the city workers who had been denied the benefits due to the injunction. A district judge then left Parker’s order in place until an appeals court decided the constitutionality of the Texas Defense of Marriage Act.
Jared Woodfill, the former chairman of the Harris County Republican Party, and the organization Texas Values, then filed in the state courts again last week, and as she did before, Judge Millard granted the injunction on Wednesday. She ordered the injunction to stay in place until December 2015, when the matter goes to trial.
Woodfill states that he is pleased with the outcome in the matter.
“All you have to do is read the constitution of the state to know the mayor has been breaking the law,” he told reporters. ““It is great to have a judge who will hold Mayor Parker accountable for trampling on the Texas Constitution and Texas Defense of Marriage Act. We will continue to oppose this Mayor every time she puts her agenda ahead of the law.”
Texas Values President and attorney, Jonathan Saenz, agreed.
“A Texas judge has once again made it clear—Mayor Parker’s executive actions to force same-sex marriage on the people of Houston are illegal. Mayor Parker’s judgment and her reliance on the reckless advice of City Attorney David Feldman have once again put the city of Houston on the wrong side of the law,” he wrote in a press release this week. “It is time for Mayor Parker to start following the law and stop wasting tax dollars on issues that have already been resolved by Texas voters and Texas state courts.”
Parker vows to appeal the injunction, which could again end up in federal court.