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.