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Supreme Court Rules Against City of Houston On Same-Sex Case

Judge gavel-(620-240)

In a court victory for Texas Values and Houston taxpayers, the state supreme court ruled unanimously this morning that Houston taxpayers (Jack Pidgeon and Larry Hicks) may proceed in their lawsuit against the mayor and city of Houston for illegally providing spousal benefits to homosexual partners of city employees.

The court’s unanimous and well-reasoned opinion was written by Justice Jeffrey S. Boyd. It held that the ruling of a federal district court that had enjoined the enforcement of state laws prohibiting the payment of spousal benefits to same-sex couples was not binding on the state judiciary. The Court also refused to validate the City of Houston’s policy of providing spousal benefits to the homosexual partners of city employees. The former mayor of Houston, Annise Parker, had provided these spousal benefits in violation of state law before the Supreme Court had ruled that same-sex marriage was a constitutional right. The state supreme court ruled that Texas Values and Houston taxpayers may proceed with their lawsuit to “claw back” these illegally spent funds.

Texas Supreme Court opinion can be found here.

Jonathan Saenz, the President of Texas Values and attorney for Pidgeon and Hicks, praised the Court’s ruling:

“Today’s unanimous ruling from the state supreme court is a huge win for Houston taxpayers and for those who support the state’s marriage laws. We are not aware of any other case like this in the nation, which is why today’s action by the Supreme Court and defeat for the City of Houston is highly significant.  The Texas Supreme Court rejected the City of Houston’s request to hold that the Obergefell same-sex marriage decision requires the payment of spousal benefits to homosexual spouses of city employees, and rightly so,” said Saenz. “It’s clear that the payment of same sex benefits by the City of Houston is still illegal under state law. We look forward to continuing our litigation in the trial court, where we are confident that we will secure judicial relief against the city of Houston’s unlawful actions and we are thankful for the important role of Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton in this case .”

Since this case began, more than 70 elected officials including Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Texas Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton have weighed-in, lending support for the plaintiffs, Jack Pidgeon and Larry Hicks.

The Texas Supreme Court agreed in January to grant full review for a case from a lower appellate court on the issue of taxpayer funded benefits for same-sex couples in the city of Houston and the case was argued before the full Texas Supreme Court in March of this year.  Jonathan Saenz of Texas Values and Jared Woodfill of Houston have been the primary lawyers for Larry Hicks and Jack Pidgeon throughout the case, against Mayor Annise Parker and thenMayor Sylvester Turner and the City of Houston. Saenz and Woodfill initially were victorious on this issue before a state trial court in Houston.

The case goes back to 2014, when Houston’s former mayor Annise Parker threw the Texas Constitution to the wind, recognizing same-sex “marriages” from other states in an illegal effort to give taxpayer funded benefits to the partners of homosexual employees. Pidgeon and Hicks filed suit, with Texas Values representing them pro bono.

On October 3, 2017, Texas Values formally asked the Texas Supreme Court to reconsider hearing a case against former Mayor Parker (and the City of Houston), who violated the Texas Constitution by issuing same-sex benefits long before the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell v Hodges same-sex marriage ruling. Later that month, Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Patrick, and Atty. Gen. Paxton filed a joint legal amicus brief in support of petitioners (the higher court term for plaintiffs) Pidgeon and Hicks.

Texas Values is a nonprofit organization dedicated to standing for faith, family, and freedom in Texas. More information is available at txvalues.org.

BACKGROUND:

Texas Supreme Court Denies Appeal on Same-sex Benefits (Sept. 6, 2016)
https://txvalues.org/2016/09/06/texas-supreme-court-denies-appeal-on-same-sex-benefits

Elected Officials, Candidates, Leaders Call for Texas Supreme Court to Hear Houston Same-sex Benefits Case (Oct. 17, 2016)
https://txvalues.org/2016/10/17/elected-officials-candidates-leaders-call-for-texas-supreme-court-to-hear-houston-same-sex-benefits-case

Texas Values Applauds Texas Supreme Court in Taking Up Same-sex Benefits Case (Jan. 20, 2017)
https://txvalues.org/2017/01/20/texas-values-applauds-texas-supreme-court-in-taking-up-same-sex-benefits-case

About Texas Values

Texas Values is a nonprofit organization dedicated to standing for faith, family, and freedom in Texas. More information is available at txvalues.org

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