Texas Supreme Court pressured to reconsider spousal benefits for gay couples
- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other GOP leaders are pushing the state’s Supreme Court to decide whether the married partners of gay employees of Houston are entitled to spousal benefits, reports the Orange County Register.
- In their lawsuit against Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Abbott and other opponents of spousal benefits for those in a same-sex marriage wrote that no city employee is entitled to spousal benefits, says the Register. The lawsuit states: “It is perfectly constitutional for the government to offer benefits or subsidies to some married couples while withholding those benefits from others.”
- An amendment on the books in Houston from 2001 bans extending spousal benefits to gay couples, hence the lawsuit. Oral arguments begin on March 1.
The discrimination in the case is troubling. In their amicus brief, the top administrators of Texas’ government wrote that same-sex marriage does not immediately grant the same rights to spousal benefits for those in same-sex marriages. But the Supreme Court legalized marriage between same-sex partners nationwide, naturally leading to the assumption that all married couples would receive whatever benefits any married couple receives.
Notably, many employers have had to grapple with adjusting their benefit programs after same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, as many had programs in place for those in same-sex domestic partnerships. Those programs had to be adjusted. This take is unusual, to say the least.
This lawsuit is specifically for public employees in Houston, but this argument could be – and has been – used to deny rights to people based on race, gender, national origin and other distinctions. It is directly opposed to the EEOC's current stance.
- Orange County Register At GOP leaders' urging, Texas Supreme Court will consider undoing gay spousal rights