The Austin Statesman reports:
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday let stand a Texas ruling that said the right to a marriage license did not entitle same-sex couples to spousal benefits under employee insurance plans.
The city of Houston asked the high court overturn last June’s Texas Supreme Court decision that determined all marriage-related matters were not decided when the U.S. Supreme Court found a right to same-sex marriage.
The federal court’s decision, issued without comment, allows the Texas court’s ruling to stand. Lawyers for Houston argued that the Texas court’s ruling was wrong and short-sighted.
“Equal recognition of same-sex marriage requires more than a marriage license; it requires equal access to the constellation of benefits that the state has linked to marriage,” the city’s lawyers told the court.
The Texas Tribune reports:
In its decision, the Texas Supreme Court noted that Obergefell requires states to license and recognize same-sex marriages just as they do opposite-sex marriages but did not hold that “states must provide the same publicly funded benefits to all married persons.”
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.”
Following the Obergefell ruling, public employers in Texas, including state agencies and public universities, quickly extended marriage benefits to spouses of gay and lesbian employees.
But amid conservative efforts to relitigate that ruling, two Houston taxpayers — represented by same-sex marriage opponents — have moved forward with their case, arguing 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.”
SCOTUS won’t take up Turner v. Pidgeon (City of Houston appeals Tx SCt holding that Obergefell didn’t settle question whether married same-sex couples must receive same spousal benefits as different-sex couples)
Here’s order list: https://t.co/oXnSv980wR pic.twitter.com/xPt0NawhnD
— Equality Case Files (@EQCF) December 4, 2017
SCOTUS rejects Texas case over same-sex marriage benefits & lets stand ruling saying Obergefell did not address right to publicly funded benefits to all married couples https://t.co/KS427ekdLb
— Alexa Ura (@alexazura) December 4, 2017
#Houston continues to provide benefits to all married employees, including same-sex couples. Pidgeon v. Turner is in Harris County district court awaiting trial #txlege https://t.co/BDfibPrH3f
— outsmartmagazine (@outsmarthouston) December 4, 2017
I’d be interested to hear thoughts on why #SCOTUS denied cert in Turner v. Pidgeon instead of summarily reversing (as in Pavan). #SSM
— Jason P. Steed (@5thCircAppeals) December 4, 2017
UPDATE: GLAAD reacts.
This decision upholds the ruling of the Texas Supreme Court saying there is not a de facto right to government benefits for LGBTQ couples. This decision begins the process to undercut marriage equality by erasing spousal benefits, including health care, for legally married LGBTQ couples in the state of Texas. With all eyes on tomorrow’s oral arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop religious exemptions case, the Supreme Court has just let an alarming ruling by the Texas Supreme Court stand which plainly undercuts the rights of married same-sex couples. 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.