Texas Supreme Court Denies Benefits for Married Same-Sex Couples

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"In support of Pidgeon", actually Jack Pidgeon and Larry Hicks, two men who don't believe same-sex couples deserve equal rights or benefits, the court writes, "we received amicus briefs from one Texas Railroad Commissioner, eleven Texas Senators, forty Texas Representatives, and four then-candidates for the Texas Legislature; fifteen 'Conservative Leaders throughout Texas, ' the U.S. Pastor Council, and Texas Leadership (aka the Texas Pastor Council); the Texas Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General; and the Foundation for Moral Law and the Institute for Creation Research".

The Texas Supreme Court ruled this morning that same-sex couples have no right to equal benefits, contradicting the Obergefell decision that spread marriage equality nationwide.

The court was ruling on a legal challenge over the city of Houston's decision to grant benefits to same-sex spouses of city employees. The state's highest civil court unanimously ordered a trial court to reconsider the case.

They've argued that the interpretation of Obergefell is too broad and that the right to marry does not "entail any particular package of tax benefits, employee fringe benefits or testimonial privileges".

The Court reaffirmed that view just this month, ruling against an Arkansas birth certificate law that discriminated against gay parents.

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According to The Austin Statesman, local gay marriage proponents have indicated that they will appeal today's ruling, arguing that the U.S. Supreme Court clearly states that all marriages must be treated equally.

As the State itself makes marriage all the more precious by the significance it attaches to it, exclusion from that status has the effect of teaching that gays and lesbians are unequal in important respects. "We hope that the Texas Supreme Court will show even more courage by rejecting Obergefell altogether should the case be appealed to them again", Clark said. They also faced pressure from Texas GOP leadership - spearheaded by Gov. Leading Republicans - including Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton - joined the call, and in January the court issued a rarely granted motion to rehear the case and set oral arguments for March 1.

However, the Texas justices held that it is up to the state to define the "reach and ramifications" of the ruling.

LGBT advocates on Friday were enraged by the Texas court's ruling. Sarah Kate Ellis, the CEO of LGBTQ media advocacy organization GLAAD, said: "The LGBTQ community and our allies must remain visible and push back harder than ever against attacks on acceptance".

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