VICTORY: U.S. Supreme Court Rejects the City of Houston’s Request to Review Same-Sex Benefits Case
In the only case of its kind, and in a major victory for Texas Values and Houston taxpayers, the U.S. Supreme Court today rejected the City of Houston’s request to review whether Houston taxpayers may challenge the city’s policy of providing spousal benefits to the homosexual partners of city employees.
The Texas Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that Houston taxpayers Jack Pidgeon and Larry Hicks may proceed with their lawsuit challenging the city’s policy, and the high court’s action this morning leaves the state supreme court’s ruling in place.
“This is an incredible early Christmas present from the U. S. Supreme Court for taxpayers. We’re grateful that the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed our lawsuit to go forward,” said Jonathan Saenz, President of Texas Values and an attorney for Pidgeon and Hicks. “Mayor Annise Parker defied the law by providing spousal benefits to same-sex couples at a time when same-sex marriage was illegal in Texas, and we intend hold the city accountable for Parker’s lawless actions and her unauthorized expenditures of taxpayer money.”
“We are very excited about our win today in front of the United States Supreme Court. The Court decision confirms that the Texas Supreme Court’s 9-0 decision reversing the Court of Appeals was correct,” said Jared Woodfill, Houston attorney also representing Pidgeon and Hicks.
The case dates back to 2013, when former Mayor Annise Parker, an open lesbian, defied state law and ordered the city of Houston to recognize same-sex “marriages” from other states—even though Texas law prohibited same-sex marriage and the U.S. Supreme Court had not yet ruled that same-sex marriage was a constitutional right. Pidgeon and Hicks promptly sued Mayor Parker and the city of Houston, with Jonathan Saenz of Texas Values and Jared Woodfill of Houston serving as Pidgeon and Hicks’s primary lawyers.
Pidgeon and Hicks initially were victorious, and secured an injunction from a state trial court that forbade the city to provide spousal employment benefits to same-sex couples. But a state appellate court reversed that injunction after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex marriage was a constitutional right. Pidgeon and Hicks appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, and the state supreme court ruled last June, in a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Jeffrey S. Boyd (http://www.txcourts.gov/media/1438061/150688.pdf), that Pidgeon and Hicks could proceed with their lawsuit against the city.
Since this case began, more than 70 elected officials—including Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton—have weighed in and filed amicus briefs supporting the plaintiffs, Pidgeon and Hicks.
Supreme Court Rules Against City of Houston On Same-Sex Benefits Case (June 30, 2017) https://txvalues.org/2017/06/30/supreme-court-rules-against-city-of-houston-on-same-sex-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
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 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
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