The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday
declined to hear an appeal to a Texas Supreme Court decision that
found that married gay and lesbian couples are not entitled to some
Earlier this year, the all-Republican
court unanimously threw out a lower court finding that city of
Houston employees who are gay are entitled to the same benefits as
their heterosexual co-workers. The state's highest court sent the
case back to a lower court.
“The Supreme Court held in Obergefell
that the Constitution requires states to license and recognize
same-sex marriage to the same extent that they license and recognize
opposite-sex marriages, but it did not hold that states must provide
the same publicly funded benefits to all married persons,” Justice
Jeffrey Boyd wrote for the court.
The city of Houston appealed the ruling
to the Supreme Court. Justices declined to hear the case without
comment, ABC News reported.
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders
(GLAD) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) filed an
amicus brief in the case. In a joint statement, the groups
noted that the Supreme Court rarely accepts cases where a final
judgment has not been rendered.
“This case is not over. It will now
return to the Texas trial court for a final decision. It was an
uphill battle to persuade the Supreme Court to grant review at this
juncture because of the Court’s firm rule about taking cases only
after a final judgment even where, as we noted in our friend of the
court brief, a lower court ruling is subverting an important federal
policy. We hope and expect the Texas trial court, on remand, will
uphold spousal benefits for employees married to a person of the same
sex, as Obergefell and common sense require,” the groups
The Texas Supreme Court agreed to hear
the case after their initial refusal prompted a backlash from
Republicans, including Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Gov. Dan
Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton, who argued that the case
provides an opportunity to undermine Obergefell, the 2015
Supreme Court ruling that struck down state laws and constitutional
amendments that limit marriage to heterosexual couples.
While the Supreme Court said in
Obergefell that gay couples are entitled to the “constellation
of benefits that the state has linked to marriage,” conservatives
who filed the lawsuit argue that it should be up to states to decide
who receives spousal benefits.