In a significant setback for marriage equality, the Texas Supreme Court has allowed the denial, for now, of spousal benefits for government employees in same-sex marriages.
The nine-member, all-Republican court ruled unanimously on a case that began after Houston’s first openly gay mayor, Annise Parker, granted spousal benefits in 2013 to city government employees who had been legally married outside of the state. Shortly after, a suit accused Houston of violating Texas law, which still banned same-sex marriages. A state trial court agreed with Pidgeon and reversed Parker's order.
But when Texas legally recognized gay marriage after the U.S. Supreme Court 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, spousal benefits were again extended to city government employees.
Now, the state's high court — which first declined to hear Pidgeon's appeal before reversing itself at the urging of prominent state Republicans — has ruled that the U.S. Supreme Court decision “did not hold that states must provide the same publicly funded benefits to all married persons.” The Texas high court instructed the trial court to reconsider Pidgeon's lawsuit with that guidance in mind.