Gay marriage rights under threat in Texas?

Marriage|January 25th 2017

The Texas Supreme Court has agreed to reconsider a case about the marriage rights of same sex couples.

Although marriage equality is now the law of the land throughout the United States, the city of Houston has challenged the idea that public employees who are gay should have access to the same level of spousal benefits, such as paid medical leave, as heterosexual married couples.

In a statement, legal representatives for the state’s most populous city said their challenge was to determine “simply whether same-sex spouses must be allowed the same employee benefits as opposite-sex spouses”. Their argument was that while the right to marry was decided by the US Supreme Court, spousal benefits were not.

The lawsuit, Pidgeon v Turner, was rejected by the state’s lower courts and was even turned down by the Texas Supreme Court back in September by a margin of eight to one. The only dissenting Justice was John P. Devine, who said:

Marriage is a fundamental right. Spousal benefits are not. Thus, the two issues are distinct, with sharply contrasting standards for review.”

Despite this original rejection, the highest court in the ‘Lone Star State’ has now decided to hear the argument after all. Although the reason for this reversal is not known, it could be that the elected Judges on the Court have sensed a change in “the mood of the state — and maybe the country” since the election and inauguration of Donald Trump as President, Bloomberg News suggests. The case is expected to begin on 1 March.

For more on this case, click here.

Photo of the Houston City Hall by Ed Schipul via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

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  1. Normandywells says:

    Bring it, Bigots! We aren’t afraid and we have law on our side

  2. Alex says:

    Although the case is silly, it can raise an important point. First, I pointing that the right to marriage by us supreme court was to grant equal rights to same-sex couples as marriage is not just a piece of paper.
    Marriage entitles certain privilege and benefits although it can also entail responsibility and consequences. Thus the argument falls flat. However, there cannot be a “right to marriage”, if marriage didn’t exist. Marriage consists of exclusive rights and privileges not available to unmarried couples. Historically, sex and cohabitation outside marriage was illegal and frowned upon. Although times have changed to an extent, marriage still exists in part to treat two people as one in terms of rights and responsibilities. If the state were to end “martial status” laws,then how could there be a right to marry.

    For instance if the state didn’t have “married filing jointly” or “spousal benefits” at all,then how could there be a right to marry. Is the state mandated to treat married couples differently then unmarried ones?

  3. Andrew says:

    “martial status” is a nice typo although some of us will recognise that state of affairs . . .

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