Texas Supreme Court Takes Up Same-Sex Marriage
Justices on the Texas Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a case that challenges whether cities, like Houston, should be allowed to extend employee benefits to the spouses of same-sex couples.
In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay-marriage with its Obergerfell vs. Hodges decision. It meant that States had to extend the same marriage benefits to same-sex couples as it did for opposite-sex couples.
Houston Pastor Jack Pigeon filed a lawsuit saying that the City of Houston, two years prior to that ruling, did not have the right to extend employee spousal benefits to same-sex couples. Pigeon’s attorney Jonathan Mitchell made that argument clear before the Texas Supreme Court Wednesday.
“A State can’t abolish the institution of marriage, but when we are talking about something like spousal employment benefits, to which there is no substantive argument, then it should be up to the State to decide," Mitchell says.
Arguing for the City of Houston, Attorney Douglas Alexander disagreed and said the Obergerfell ruling was pretty clear on the issue of spousal benefits pertaining to same-sex couples.
“If the State or the City or any governmental entity affords benefits to opposite sex couples then under both the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause they must also provide them to same-sex couples. It’s just that simple," Alexander says.
Texas Supreme Court Justices plan to return with a ruling on the issue in June.