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Republicans want Texas Supreme Court to overturn gay spousal rights

Texas GOP says they want Supreme Court to undo rights to benefits for same-sex couples.
Photo credit:
Tyler Pratt/KUT News

Top Republicans are asking that the Texas Supreme Court review if benefits should extend to Houston city workers with same-sex partners.  

This is due to the Gov. Greg Abbott’s insistence that legalizing gay marriage does not mean gay employees should receive benefits for their spouses.

"No city employee — whether heterosexual or homosexual — has a 'fundamental right' to receive employee benefits for his or her spouse," reads the lawsuit against Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. "It is perfectly constitutional for the government to offer benefits or subsidies to some married couples while withholding those benefits from others."

Four months ago, Texas justices were no interested in hearing the case, but Jack Pidgeon and Pastor Larry Hicks asked them to change their minds, saying homosexuals should not receive the same benefits as heterosexuals despite the SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriage.

 In 2013, Pidgeon and Hicks sued openly gay, now former Mayor Annise Parker. Parker extended the spousal same-sex benefits to city employees, even though a 2001 amendment to the city charter banned it.

Lawyers for Houston argue that denying benefits to same-sex partners is unconstitutional when those same benefits are offered to heterosexual couples.

In a recent brief, they make clear that Texas has extended rights to benefits for same-sex couples since 2015.

"No lower Texas court has ruled on whether Houston's policy directive violated the law," they wrote. "Much of petitioners' motion for rehearing is an exercise in knocking down strawmen on issues unrelated to this case."

The Texas Supreme Court will hear oral arguments starting March1.