Texas Takes Up Gay Marriage Benefits

The legal battle over same-sex marriage isn't over yet---at least not in Texas.  This week, the Texas Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments in the case challenging Houston's policy of providing city benefits to the same-sex spouses of city employees.  The policy was enacted under former Mayor Annise Parker shortly after the landmark 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. 

Houston attorney Jared Woodfill is leading a lawsuit challenging the city policy, arguing that the Obergefell ruling shouldn't require taxpayers to fund benefits for same-sex couples.  Woodfill tells KTRH that Texas already passed a law banning such benefits.  "Our position is the court shouldn't be telling the legislature what they can or cannot do with respect to benefits," he says.  "Obergefell did not address same-sex benefits, it didn't address benefits at all, and so ultimately we believe this case will be in front of the United States Supreme Court."

Getting the case this far has been an uphill battle for the plaintiffs.  The Texas Supreme Court initially declined to hear the case last September, but reversed course in January after months of pressure from leaders like the Governor, Lt. Governor and state Attorney General.

Regardless of how the Texas high court rules, Woodfill predicts this case will ultimately end up before the U.S. Supreme Court, which could lead to a re-hearing of the entire gay marriage issue.  "(The Supreme Court) will have a decision as to whether Obergefell should be expanded, or whether Obergefell should even be the law," he says.  "So this case is a precedent setting case that I think ultimately will have national implications."

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