The city of Houston’s appeal of a lower court ruling regarding the spousal benefits for gay married city employees was turned away by the U.S. Supreme Court on December 4.
In June of this year, the Texas Supreme Court (nearly all Republicans) ruled to allow a lawsuit—brought by an assholic group espousing “biblical, Judeo-Christian values”—to proceed. The suit seeks to stop Houston’s municipal government granting benefits to spouses of employees who are in same-sex marriages.
The Supreme Court justices left that ruling “intact,” choosing not to set precedent. This is a gift to conservatives with poison-oak twigs up their asses who would like to see the narrowest interpretation of Obergefell v. Hodges, the high court decision guaranteeing same-sex couples the fundamental right to marry, in adherence to the Constitution.
The Houston case will move forward in a Texas state court. The ruling could cease municipal spousal benefits to same-sex couples. If that happens, the court outcome could again be appealed in the U.S. Supreme Court.
The case started in 2013 after Annise Parker (D), the first openly gay mayor in Houston, granted spousal benefits—health and life insurance—to same-sex married couples. A couple good ol’ boys, Christian pastor Jack Pidgeon and accountant Larry Hicks, sued Houston for establishing this equality, saying it violated the Texas constitution as well as state and local laws. The lawsuit had the support of all Texas Republican leaders and a conservative advocacy cabal called Texas Values.
A state trial court proceeding gave the bigots the go-ahead, but the 2015 Obergefell case decision compelled an appeals court to reverse the ruling. The June 2017 Texas Supreme Court agreed with the pastor and accountant that tax money should not pay for same-sex married couples’ spousal benefits, the narrow reading of Obergefell they were hoping for: you can marry but you’re still not equal to opposite-sex individuals who marry.
Current Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (D) brought the appeal to the high court with the correct mindset the Obergefell decision automatically gives same-sex spouses the benefits intrinsic to marriage.
Oral arguments for Masterpiece Cakeshop v. CO Civil Rights Commission will be heard December 5 by the Supreme Court. This case involves an uptight Christian baker who believes the Constitution protects his right to refuse service to a married gay couple seeking a wedding cake, which he says violates his religious beliefs. The ten-foot-pole treatment the high court justices gave the Houston appeal on Monday doesn’t bode well for this case and LGBTQ rights in general. The Court will convene for a public session at 10 a.m. EST.