U.S. Supreme Court Denies Review of Anti-LGBTQ Ruling from Texas Supreme Court

By Adam Polaski • December 4, 2017 • 10:59 am

Today, December 4, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request from the City of Houston to review an anti-LGBTQ ruling issued by the Texas Supreme Court earlier this year.

In June the Texas Supreme Court blatantly contradicted the nation’s highest court in a ruling issued in Pidgeon v. Turner. The court found that there is no inherent right to government-provided spousal benefits in same-sex marriages.

Today’s development from the U.S. Supreme Court is not the end of the line – the Texas Supreme Court remanded the case back to the lower court, so as proceedings continue there, it’s important that Texans across the state continue robust discussion about why marriage matters and why no one should face discrimination because of who they are.

The case predates the Obergefell decision, spurred by Houston’s then-mayor Annise Parker to extend spousal benefits to city employees, recognizing marriages performed in other states in 2013. Later, Houston residents Jack Pidgeon and Larry Hicks filed a legal case, saying that Mayor Parker and Houston violated the Texas Constitution and Texas Family Code. For a short while, Houston was prohibited from providing spousal benefits to city employees married to a person of the same sex – but the ruling was overturned very quickly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell that the freedom to marry is law nationwide. At first, the Texas Supreme Court declined to hear the case, until anti-LGBT forces in Texas – including Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton stepped in and urged the Texas Supreme Court to violate federal law and reopen the case.

Just days before the Texas Supreme Court ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed in Pavan v. Smith that married same-sex couples must be treated the same as different-sex married couples in all instances, without exception. The Pavan ruling reversed a bad decision from the Arkansas Supreme Court excluding parents in same-sex marriages from listing both parents’ names on the birth certificates of their children. The Pavan decision said, in part, “Obergefell proscribes such disparate treatment. As we explained there, a State may not “exclude same-sex couples from civil marriage on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples.””

We’ll keep everyone posted on the Pidgeon v. Turner case and others as they wind their way through the courts.

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