January 21, 2014 – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has filed a brief in two separate cases in Houston on the enforcement of Texas law and the Texas Constitution’s definition of marriage. Late last year, after winning re-election, Houston Mayor Annise Parker, an open lesbian, directed city staff to violate the Texas Constitution by giving legal status and recognition to same-sex marriage in Texas and offering benefits to “spouses” of employees who “legally” obtained a same-sex marriage in another state. After a lawsuit was filed on this matter, a state district court judge ruled that Mayor Parker and the City of Houston must “cease and desist” from recognizing same-sex marriage and providing benefits to same-sex couples married in other states. After losing in state court, the City requested that the case be moved to federal court.
Attorney General Abbott’s brief supports the Houston taxpayers who filed this legal action and joins their request that the state court lawsuit be returned to state court. Federal district court judge Lee Rosenthal is to review briefing on whether or not the case should be decided by the federal court or be returned to state court. A decision will come later this year from the federal court.
Abbott’s office also requested a dismissal of a separate federal court case brought by a homosexual advocacy group based in New York (Lambda Legal). Lambda Legal has sued the City of Houston and Mayor Parker to force them to violate state law on the issue of recognizing same-sex marriages from other states, something the City and Mayor Parker are already doing in Houston. Abbott’s brief says: “[t]he plaintiffs and defendants all desire a regime that extends health benefits to the same-sex partners of city employees who obtained marriage licenses from other jurisdictions, and the defendants are refusing to obey state laws that prohibit them from recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages…There is no adversarial relationship between the plaintiffs and the defendants in this case.”
“The Lambda Legal lawsuit is a sham, and the last ditch effort by Mayor Parker and the City of Houston to move this case to federal court after losing twice in state court is a miscarriage of justice that must be stopped,” said Jonathan Saenz, attorney and president of Texas Values. “Texas has the right to enforce Texas law and the Texas Constitution in Texas state courts. We are thankful that Attorney General Abbott has sided with our position on this issue, and we believe that his office’s further involvement in this case will be a benefit to Texans and to the Texas Constitution,” concluded Saenz.
The state court lawsuit was filed by a team of lawyers led by Jared Woodfill, chairman of the Harris County Republican Party. Texas Values attorney and president, Jonathan Saenz, is also a part of the legal team challenging Mayor Parker and the City.