No Same-Sex Benefits in Texas

In what could lead to a significant decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that it would not hear an appeal from the city of Houston of a Texas Supreme Court decision that effectively blocked the city from offering benefits to the same-sex spouse of municipal employees. The case began when then-Houston Mayor Annise Parker authorized taxpayer-subsidized benefits for the same-sex spouse of a municipal employee in violation of Texas law at the time regarding same-sex “marriages.” However, by the time the case was heard by the Texas Court of Appeals, the U.S. Supreme Court, in the Obergefell case, held that states that license marriages must also issue licenses to same-sex couples. The Texas appeals court ruled that providing the employee benefits was required by Obergefell. The Texas Supreme Court stated that Obergefell did not automatically require a state to confer on same-sex couples the same employee benefits it provided to opposite-sex couples. The Texas Supreme Court then sent the case back to the trial court to decide how Obergefell applies to benefits. Though the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from the Texas Supreme Court, expect the case to return there in a couple of years.

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