Supreme Court Lets Stand Texas Ruling That Could Undermine Marriage Equality
05 December, 2017, 02:39 | Author: Diane Mills
Our country's highest court has let stand a ruling by the Texas Supreme Court that says gay couples are not entitled to the same spousal employee insurance benefits as heterosexual couples.
The case that goes before the U.S. Supreme Court for oral arguments on December 5 is a showdown between a gay couple from Colorado and a Denver-area baker who in 2012 cited his Christian faith in refusing to make a cake for their wedding celebration.
"What an incredible early Christmas present from the U. S. Supreme Court", said Saenz, president of Texas Values, according to the American-Statesman. "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". The city of Houston appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, arguing that it violated the precedent established by Obergefell. Houston has continued to provide benefits to all of its married employees through-out the pending litigation.
In June, the Texas Supreme Court threw out the ruling favoring Houston, agreeing that the Obergefell decision "did not hold that states must provide the same publicly funded benefits to all married persons", and remanded the case back to the trial court to allow the men to make their arguments again.
Jim Griffin, a Dallas lawyer who advises businesses on employee benefits plans, surmised that Houston's appeal was rejected because the Supreme Court did not have a final decision on marriage benefits to examine.
The ruling returned the lawsuit to a Houston district court to determine whether the U.S. Supreme Court's marriage ruling applies to spousal benefits provided by Houston.
The case of Masterpiece Cakeshop versus Colorado Civil Rights Commission began five years ago when Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins asked Phillips to make a cake for their wedding reception.
That does not mean Houston can "constitutionally deny benefits to its employees' same-sex spouses", the court added, but the issue must now be resolved "in light of Obergefell". "We're grateful that the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed our lawsuit to go forward", Saenz said.
The high court ruled that states must give same-sex couples the same rights as opposite-sex couples or else the state would be giving same-sex couples "disparate treatment", something forbidden under Obergefell.
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