Houston Petitions SCOTUS To Review State Supreme Court Ruling On Benefits For Married Same-Sex Couples

The Houston Chronicle reports:

The City of Houston and Mayor Sylvester Turner filed a petition Friday asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision that came down earlier this summer, concluding that states did not have to provide publicly funded benefits to same-sex couples, according to a news release from the city.

The decision in Pidgeon v. Parker from the Texas Supreme Court on June 30 said states did not have to provide government employee benefits to all married persons, regardless of whether their marriages are same sex or opposite sex.

The Texas court claims the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 2015 decision Obergefell v. Hodges, that recognized marriage rights among gay couples did not determine whether same-sex couples have spousal benefits. The court also said the Pavan vs. Smith case does not conclude whether same-sex couples are entitled to spousal benefits.

  • John Ruff

    Texas logic

  • Joe in PA

    FFS, if we lose this one…all hope is lost. 馃檨

    • FAEN

      We haven’t lost yet and I don’t think we will.

      • Gerry Fisher

        What frustrates me is that our opponents often *know* they’ll lose in the end, but they also know that the battle will cost us lots of money, effort, and a year or three to beat it down.

  • TrueWords

    On what planet is it NOT a violation of Equal Protection to say that we are giving benefits to married people, but certain married people cannot get them?

    It’s like a law school 101 hypothetical of a violation of Equal Protection.

    Minorities in Texas must feel so hopeless when they try to go to court. The court is comprised entirely of bigots. There’s no chance at getting a fair hearing – not regarding marriage, or custody, or any other matter.

    • FAEN

      The planet of Texas.

      • Gustav2

        You find that planet on the other side Bible/Asteroid Belt.

        • bzrd

          more like ass-on-steroids bible belt

    • Dagoril

      If you want your marriage benefits, you can just marry someone of the opposite sex like a normal person!

      It’s the same logic that said that discriminating against interracial couples was not really discrimination, since a black man could just marry a black woman instead of the white woman he was actually in love with.

      • FAEN

        Exactly. And that didn’t pass muster either. There is no standing to deny LGBT’s their rights.

        • j.martindale

          This needs to go to SCOTUS before we lose another pro-gay justice.

          • Ninja0980

            Indeed.
            If Kennedy or Ginsburg is replaced by someone like Pryor or Sykes, this will be upheld..along with anything else the bigots bring to court.

          • FAEN

            Much as I love and admire RBG I felt she should have retired in 2012 and let Obama appoint another Justice in her place.

          • JAX

            Congress would have blocked anyone he appointed.

          • FAEN

            I don’t think they would have in 2012-13.

          • If she retired in late 2012 or early 2013, at the beginning of Obama’s second term, Democrats still controlled the Senate for that two-year term. Republicans may have tried to filibuster anyone, though I suspect with four years left in Obama’s term they would have let someone like Garland through for fear Democrats would nuke the SCOTUS filibuster and push through a Thurgood Marshall type.

          • Ninja0980

            Yup.
            Sandra Day O’Connor did that, as did Souter and Stevens.
            She was just being plain selfish and short sighted there and clearly didn’t seem to care if what happened to Thurgood Marshall’s seat happens to hers as well.

          • FAEN

            I wish Sandra had stayed though.

          • Ninja0980

            I think she does too, all things considering.
            I will say this though, Bush V Gore and Bowers V Hardwick (let us not forget she didn’t sign onto Kennedy’s option either) will forever be blights on her record.

          • jonfromcalifornia

            Exactly how I feel. But it’s too late now and we have to steel ourselves for what comes if she goes.

          • FAEN

            Well there’s a danger of that but they also need standing….they couldn’t prove how marriage equality hurt the rest of the country in ’13 and ’15 and I doubt they could do it now.

            It’s very difficult to reverse a decision like this. The Genie is out of the bottle and going back to a time where we’re not treated equally under the law, as far as marriage, would bring protest and chaos.

          • Ninja0980

            IMO, if they did a ruling like that, then Democrats would either expand the court or do away with lifetime tenure for judges.
            IMO, the latter should be done anyway.
            If nothing else, it would take away the incentive to keep seats open for years or even a decade for a right wing hack or vice versa.
            More to the point, the fact we still have judges from the St. Ronnie era on almost all of the circuit courts is absurd.
            No one should be able to influence the courts for that long.

          • FAEN

            You bring up some interesting and valid points.

      • wmforr

        And “Freedom of Religion” means that we’re all free to be Evangelicals, so where’s the discrimination?

      • Commentator8

        If there was all this “evidence” about the harms of same sex marriage, why weren’t they in the Prop 8 trials? It’s because there is absolutely no harm and court appearances don’t make money, and you get shredded for your opposition because it’s stupid

    • Gerry Fisher

      I remember after the Obergefell decision, people were preparing us by giving reminders about how long it took for the battles over the Loving decision to die down. They predicted that it would take a decade or two of these types of battles. And they’re *still* fighting the Roe decision some 40 years later.

      • Good point. And in terms of public opinion polls, we’re actually farther ahead now than public sentiment was for interracial marriages this far out from Loving. There will still be battles, to be sure, and the number of judicial vacancies that Trump — and therefore the Federalist Society — get to appoint won’t help. But the public opinion is moving faster than they realize.

        • Hamoverfist

          yes I believe the support for ending anti miscegenation laws was only 20% at the time they were finally struck down.

    • Dave B

      Texas!…..The one star state.

    • Ninja0980

      There isn’t one other then bigotry, and everyone knows it.
      As to your second point, that is why the lower courts should have been talked about more this past election.
      Because in places like Texas etc, the federal courts are your only hope if you are a minority group.
      You’ll get no help from the bigots running the show statewide.
      Sad to say, once Trump gets through with the courts, that will be the case for many of the various circuit courts too.

      • John30013

        Even in federal courts, though, progressive causes have an uphill climb since the 5th Circuit is so conservative.

    • wmforr

      Law school 101? Try sixth-grade civics.

  • BearEyes

    tex-ass
    equal is only equal for some

  • Tom Mears

    This is the kind of decision you get out of courts when judges are elected in partisan contests. This same nonsense bought Roy Moore a judgeship in Alabama, twice.

  • What part of “same terms and conditions” is it that they don’t understand?

    • The “same” part. They don’t think anyone deserves the same as them, only lesser.

    • RJ (TO)

      The part that says “same-sex couples”. Because Adam and Steve or something. I stopped listening a long time ago.

      • FAEN

        But I like Adam & Steve.

        • RJ (TO)

          Adam’s cool. But Steve, don’t get me started.

    • FAEN

      They understand it they just don’t care for it.

      • Palmer

        We have a winner! That’s all it boils down to.

    • bambinoitaliano

      These people think the law and order that govern the people of the country is the same as scriptures from bible. They can pick and choose like a menu from Danny’s.

    • Moxie Miscellany

      The same thing they didn’t understand back in the early 60s. Same “moral outrage,” different target. Well, an additional target. (This is Texas, after all; where being a Hispanic American because the US happened around your ancestors’ home makes you an “immigrant.” Or even an “illegal.”)

  • bkmn

    EVERY election matters – spread the word

    • FAEN

      Which is why if it’s for school board, crossing guard, state legislature to POTUS we should ALWAYS vote. I don’t understand why we haven’t gotten that as Dems.

      • Ninja0980

        Not only that but that the courts matter.
        So many Republicans voted for Trump because of SCOTUS and the lower courts and only because of SCOTUS and the lower courts.
        Why can’t our side do the same?

        • FAEN

          Oh-but her emails馃檮!

          • And, never forget the fact she’s a woman. Real he-man types cant have a woman be telling <b<MEN what to do!

          • FAEN

            And worse, women who think that way. That saddens me greatly.

    • This video with a few minor changes should play everywhere, it might explain to the younger set with a catchy beat why voting is important.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCK1I4sDbEo

  • The Professor

    What a Fucking insult. Start sawing Texas off the continent. I don’t want my gay taxes drying out their floods then.

    • FAEN

      I’m curious if it’s the legislature or the people who feel this way?

      • netxtown

        Paxton and Abbott pushed it + the Houston bible thumpers.

        • The Professor

          It is so gross. We all knew Obergefell wasn’t going to be the last word with the POS bigots. Can’t imagine this Supreme Court taking the case and even if they did, they aren’t about to nullify themselves only two years later. But what a waste of time, and tax dollars.

          • Emcee, cubed

            Actually, we WANT them to take the case. The Texas Supreme Court ruled that they don’t have to give benefits to same-sex couples. The only way to overturn that is for SCOTUS to take the case and overturn the ruling. If they don’t hear it, the ruling stands.

      • The Professor

        If the legislature doesn’t represent the people they should vote them out.

        • greenmanTN
          • Ash

            Yes.. Harris County, which includes Houston, also contains a city called Pasadena, Texas, which was ruled in January of this year to have illegally infringed on the voting rights of the Latino population.

          • The_Wretched

            You’d think a 1 page brief with that on it would be all that SCOTUS needs to see the voting districts in TX are an abomination. but no, they are ok 5:4 to letting them get used in 2018.

          • The Professor

            I understand gerrymandering. I also understand a lot of those voters would be perfectly fine with this.

        • FAEN

          Easier said than done what with the gerrymandering.

          • Ninja0980

            And voter id laws where the only types of valid id for voting are the ones that are the hardest for minority groups, the poor, the elderly and college students to get.

          • FAEN

            Yeah. It’s so blatant-you can’t vote with a college ID but you can vote with your NRA ID or your hunting license? Ridiculous! However if that’s what it takes I hope everyone goes out and gets a fucking hunting license.

          • Moxie Miscellany

            Wait… your NRA ID? Really? No bias there at all, nosir… /s

            I’m guessing an ACLU ID doesn’t count, though.

      • Ash

        As a bisexual woman & proud lifelong Houstonian who was directly impacted by Harvey (and is still trying to repair flood damages to my home,) it seems there’s some misunderstanding in this comments section, and I admit it’s hurtful seeing people wish further harm on my city as a result.

        The city of Houston began giving benefits to same-sex couples while openly-gay mayor Annise Parker was in office. She’s the Parker half of the Pidgeon v. Parker listed in the original post, and it became Pidgeon v. Turner after Parker reached term limits & Sylvester Turner replaced her.

        Pidgeon v. Parker (and thus, Pidgeon v. Turner) involved 2 taxpayers in Houston suing the city in family court because they didn’t like the city offering benefits to same-sex couples. A state court judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, and the city tried to take it to district court, arguing that since their defense includes federal law, it should be a federal case.. and failed. Now, the city is trying to take the battle to SCOTUS, to affirm that yes, equality includes benefits.

        • FAEN

          I hope you are bouncing back as much abs possible after Harvey. My best to you and your city.

          I agree that I’ve been guilty of generalizing Texas and lumping the people in with the legislature which is unfair.

          I know there are good, progressive Texans but unfortunately they seem to be drowned out by the bigots. I’ve always heard the cities are liberal-ish but you’d never know that by listening to state government IMHO.

          Anyway, thank you for your comment and explanation. Much appreciated.

          • Ash

            Thank you. <3

            We are very much drowned out by bigots. The state is large, and though cities like Houston are largely liberal, there are many more smaller cities than there are bigger ones. 1 in 5 people in Houston are foreign-born immigrants (even leading to some street signs being written in Chinese or Vietnamese,) we have a thriving arts scene (even hosting a mural festival every year to encourage public art,) and we've shown out in sizable number for a significant number of anti-Trump protests this year. (In fact, the Houston chapter of the women's march was the largest public gathering in the city's history.)

            Get an hour north, however, and you have towns like one legally named Cut and Shoot, Texas. You can guess how those things tend to go. As large as Houston is, we cannot outweigh the entire state. Instead, we tend to fight them when we can. This year alone, the (Latino) Houston Chief of Police Art Acevedo spoke out against the "show me your papers" law, an iconic-to-Houstonians piece of graffiti was joined by a "STOP SB4" piece next to it, and Sylvester Turner praised the ruling blocking portions of SB4 from going into effect… while also encouraging undocumented people to still show up seeking Harvey relief if needed.

            Like every city, there are a couple insufferable, hateful people. Unfortunately, unlike most blue states, the support of our state government means those hateful people feel even more justified in taking action.

  • lymis

    The thing that far too many people – usually the bigots – don’t understand is that while states have a lot of freedom on what benefits they choose to grant to married people – including, presumably, the right to grant absolutely NO benefits to any married people at the state level, they don’t have the right to pick and choose which married people get those benefits.

    The TEXAS state constitution, among other things, guarantees

    Sec. 3. EQUAL RIGHTS. All free men, when they form a social compact, have equal rights, and no man, or set of men, is entitled to exclusive separate public emoluments, or privileges, but in consideration of public services.

    Sec. 3a. EQUALITY UNDER THE LAW. Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed, or national origin. This amendment is self-operative.

    The 14th Amendment to the US constitution states, in part,

    No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    They’re trying the old game that minorities have some different class of rights. Whether that’s “white voting rights” as opposed to “black voting rights” or “men’s rights” versus “women’s rights” or, in this case, “opposite sex married rights” versus “same-sex married rights,” it doesn’t fly. Just because you can distinguish one citizen or category of citizens doesn’t mean you can discriminate against them.

    It won’t surprise me if Texas, once again, causes the US Supreme Court to advance the equality of LGBT people. Sooner or later, they have to formally declare that we are, in fact, citizens like everyone else. They’ve come incrementally closer to doing so each time a case comes before them.

    If they allow Texas to create a class of second-class citizens, they open the door to allowing states to separate out any other group the same way – whether that’s “Christian marriage rights” versus “Non-Christian marriage rights” or “white housing laws” versus “minority race housing laws” or anything else. That would go completely against the arc of constitutional interpretation as it has grown into established law. They may hedge yet again and come up with some narrow interpretation that strikes this down, but they can’t come out against fundamental equality in law. (Casting a blind eye to inequality in practice rather than in actual law is, sadly, a different matter, one they’ve excelled at in the past.)

    • John Ruff

      And they’ll (bigots) lose

    • Ben in Oakland

      One can only be amazed that with the clause in the Texas constitution. The Tex-ass Supreme Court could rule as they did..

      • Ninja0980

        When you are an elected judge being threatened with a primary challenge if you don’t vote the correct way, you’ll easily come up with a ruling like the one being appealed.

      • J Ascher

        Republicans and conservatives will always, without fail, put ideology over fidelity to the law.

  • netxtown

    ALL or NONE. It’s called equality.

    • Jean-Marc in Canada

      Hell, it’s justice.

  • Jmdintpa

    In some ways I hope they go to the supreme court and they cut out benefits or all people. everyone… then let the christians deal with the blowback on that.

    • Johnny Wyeknot

      Like when they closed the pools in Orlando rather than integrate them when I was a kid.

  • PickyPecker
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  • Natty Enquirer

    Okay, so you have the right to marry and we have to give you a certificate. But nothing else.

    Preposterous.

    • Kenster999

      Yeah, that sucks, but at least we got to destroy their institution… /s

  • ohbear1957

    A lovely tribute to Edie Windsor.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sqrVx2uWKE

    • greenmanTN

      Nevertheless, she persisted.

    • Jean-Marc in Canada

      Yet she was apparently so horrifying that people chose Trump, by choice or proxy…what a world. smh

  • Jean-Marc in Canada

    Wait, so let me be clear on this. Gays have the right to marry, just not to any of the benefits of marriage. Well then, if gays are only to be afforded half the rights, shouldn’t they only pay half the taxes? Fair being fair and all that.

    • jonfromcalifornia

      Don’t bring fairness into this! LOL. You are talking about Republicans. They want your money, they just don’t give a rat’s ass about you. Can you imagine what would happen to Republican states if Democratic states gave less In taxes??? There would be riots in the streets in the Red States when the old coots and gun toting unemployed losers lose their essential services and welfare benefits.

  • Tiger Quinn

    Your whole putrid city was just underwater and the nation cared, and two seconds later you can’t wait to yank bennies from gays. People – start saying this over and over – there is no such thing as a good Republican. EVER.

    • Ash

      Sylvester Turner isn’t a Republican. He’s a Democrat, and he inherited this battle directly from Annise Parker, the openly-gay former mayor that he replaced when she reached her term limit.

      The city of Houston, post Obergefell, began instituting benefits for married same-sex couples. A couple taxpayers didn’t like it, and sued, and after Parker left office, Turner inherited the case as the current mayor.

      What Turner is doing now is asking SCOTUS to side with the city’s original decision (that yes, equality includes benefits,) and against the state’s decision.

      • 2guysnamedjoe

        Thank you for clearing that up. If only the excerpt from the Chronicle article were written as clearly.

      • Baltimatt

        I imagine Mayor Turner doesn’t want some future administration or any other locale availing itself of the SCOTX decision.

    • Dave B

      鈥淓xcept I cannot regard the Republicans as people, somehow, only as monsters, fools, beast, and foul excrement.

      In a letter Julia Child wrote to Avis DeVoto dated December 8, 1954

  • JohnMyroro

    Texas. Mother lode of backwardness and bigotry.

    • FAEN

      However the cities are pretty blue. And let’s remember Houston had a popular out mayor for two terms I believe?

      The legislature and rural communities in general tend to be nutso.

      • Baltimatt

        Anise Parker was mayor for three 2-year terms.

        • FAEN

          Thank you for the correction 馃槉.

        • Sprightly

          Dr. Johnny Fever sez:
          Hst….squid….et al….where’s the outrage over the racist actions of evergreen?

          Your silence is your tacit acceptance of racism and clearly shows your complicity in same.

          Shame….shame on all of you.

          Yeah.
          Dr. Johnny Fever.
          Made fun of my twitchy legs- made fun of my wife’s physical appearance, followed me around and harassed me constantly and is a proud member of your board.
          Here he is-blatantly breaking the rules of your forum right in your face because he probably knows you won’t do jack.

          How come you never answer me what happened to all the reports? I reported Dr. Johnny over and over and nothing ever happened to him. What happened to those reports?

          Liar….. 馃槨馃槨馃槨馃槨馃槨

  • greenmanTN

    Jamie Leigh Curtis vs Scalia. I swear it’s worth watching, though the real payoff is at the end.

    https://youtu.be/8riSMKPaOTQ

    • Oscarlating Wildely

      Great wood and wall work!

      Carry on.

  • unclemike

    Hey, Texas, could you stop being a dick just for a few years?

    • Ross

      Hope springs eternal.

    • Ann Kah

      Uh…Texas.

  • Macbill

    White Jesus is OK with the Prosperity Gospel and Nazis. For sure He hates on the gays, along with the Brown and the Black people.

  • Ninja0980

    If anyone claims there is a valid reason why same sex couples are denied the same benefits straight couples get for any reason other then bigotry, tell them straight up they are a bigoted liar.
    There IS no other reason for this other then hate, period.

  • narutomania

    And just why WOULDN’T they have to provide equal benefits to all employees? It seems that the aptly named EQUAL PROTECTIONS CLAUSE of the U.S. Constitution guarantees just that.

    For fuck sake!

  • JWC

    Texans with Obergefell are like Tr ump with Obama just hear the word and it must be detroyed

  • MBear

    Such a grate cuntry of freedom and liberty

  • Ross

    Hey! I have an idea!

    Let’s also deny benefits to people of color! And mixed-raced marriages!

    Yes! ONLY the white straight majority should get benefits!!!!!!!

    Yes!

  • scream4ever

    Since there is no explicit denial of benefits, I highly doubt they will hear this, and the case will simply die a silent death.

  • Gianni

    So why not stop providing spousal benefits to ALL marriages? That’ll balance the scales, right? It’ll create a great and overwhelming backlash from hetero couples, but so what? Equal treatment under the law is a constitutional thing, isn’t it? Seems like the Texas Supreme Court did this deliberately to push it onto the SCOTUS.

  • sfbob

    I believe that Obergefell concluded that marriage of same-sex and opposite sex couples were to be treated identically under the law.. I’m not sure why or how the Supreme Court of Texas would rule otherwise. Oh, that’s right. Animus.

  • wmforr

    This is a big DUH! Can that court now say that citizens of different races don’t necessarily have the right to vote? If Texas had a decent legislature, this should be grounds to impeach the entire court.

  • Commentator8

    Just another attempt to roll back Obergefell