Paxton cheers Texas Supreme Court ruling on same-sex benefits

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The court overturned a lower court's decision that favored same-sex marriage benefits, ordering the issue back to trial.

The Texas Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex couples do not have to provide spousal benefits to married gay couples.

The Texas Supreme Court today issued a freakish ruling today that, Obergefell notwithstanding, it isn't clear whether Houston can legally provide marriage benefits to city employees married to someone of the same sex, given the state's laws prohibiting such benefits. Those who oppose the ruling in Texas have argued that it's "too broad", and that the right to marry should not "entail any particular package of tax benefits, employee fringe benefits or testimonial privileges" with regard to governmental agencies within the state.

The Texas Supreme Court ruled that the Obergefell decision didn't relate to all marriage matters, only the right to marry, and states had a right to regulate how the decision was implemented.

First, a little background on the Texas Supreme Court: Justices are elected in partisan elections, and all nine justices are Republicans.

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Woodfill said he intends to ask for another injunction preventing the city from providing same-sex benefits and requiring Houston to "claw back" benefits paid to employees' same-sex spouses before Obergefell.

The high court on Monday reversed a ruling by the Arkansas Supreme Court that kept married same-sex couples from being treated the same as opposite-sex couples on their children's birth certificates.

One of the plaintiffs in this case, Boyd continues, "contends that neither the Constitution nor Obergefell requires citizens to support same-sex marriages with their tax dollars, but he has not yet had the opportunity to make his case". As of August 31, 584 same-sex spouses had enrolled in insurance plans - including health, dental or life insurance - subsidized by the state, according to a spokeswoman for the Employees Retirement System, which oversees benefits for state employees. "Of course, that does not mean that the Texas DOMAs are constitutional or that the City may constitutionally deny benefits to its employees' same-sex spouses", Justice Boyd writes. It has been welcomed by conservatives, with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton saying that the decision "recognized that Texas law is still important when it comes to marriage", the Statesman reports. In a unanimous ruling that declined to instruct lower.

"This absurd contortion of the Obergefell ruling defies all logic and reason", said Kenneth Upton, senior counsel in LGBT rights legal group Lambda Legal's Dallas office.

Advocates are likely to push for the case to be appealed to federal courts.

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