Are Same-Sex Spouses Entitled to Benefits? Houston Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Weigh In

by | September 19, 2017

By Brooke A. Lewis

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.

However, the city argues the Obergefell decision concluded that benefits a state attaches to marriage must be provided equally to all married couples, whether they are same-sex couples or opposite sex.

The city also believes the Pavan case in June 2017 re-affirmed the Obergefell decision.

The City of Houston continues to provide spousal benefits to all married employees, the news release said.

However, the city hopes the Supreme Court will grant their petition and establish "constitutional rights guaranteed under Obergefell and Pavan apply to all married couples."

(c)2017 the Houston Chronicle