ONE STEP BACKWARD

Supreme Court: Texas Has Right to Deny Gay Spousal Benefits

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday swatted down an appeal by Houston to ensure that gay spouses working for the city are entitled to government-subsidized workplace benefits, allowing the Texas Supreme Court’s ruling on the matter to stand. Houston had challenged a ruling by the Texas Supreme Court in June that overturned a lower court’s decision to grant spousal benefits to gay city employees. The state’s all-Republican high court had issued its ruling amid pressure from conservative officials who argued that Texas may be able to limit the scope of the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which held that same-sex couples should be granted the fundamental right to marry. The Texas court argued that while Obergefell gives same-sex couples the right to marry, it does not necessarily grant them benefits. Monday’s decision was handed down quietly, with no comment or explanation. The move quickly triggered condemnation by activists. “Today’s abnegation by the nation’s highest court opens the door for an onslaught of challenges to the rights of LGBTQ people at every step,” Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of the civil-rights group GLAAD, said in a statement.