Supreme Court: Texas Can Exclude Gay Couples from Spousal Benefits | Sojourners

Supreme Court: Texas Can Exclude Gay Couples from Spousal Benefits

On Dec. 4, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a Texas ruling that same-sex couples may not be entitled to government-subsidized workplace benefits, according to The Associated Press.

The decision allows a June ruling by the Texas Supreme Court that overturned the lower court’s decision to grant spousal benefits to gay city employees to stand. The ruling may back conservative efforts to limit the scope of the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges decision that grants same-sex couples the fundamental right to marry. The Texas court argued that the right to marry does not necessarily grant them same-sex spousal benefits to municipal employees. 

The Associated Press reports:

Houston has been paying same-sex benefits amid the case’s developments and will continue to do so while it progresses through lower Texas courts. The city argues that the 2015 legalization of gay marriage meant all marriages are equal, so anything offered to opposite-sex couples must be offered to same-sex ones.

Conservative groups counter that the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t declare spousal benefits a fundamental right of marriage two years ago, and that it should be up to states to decide. They also see a chance for Texas to defend religious liberty under a state gay marriage ban that voters approved in 2005.

“Today’s abnegation by the nation’s highest court opens the door for an onslaught of challenges to the rights of LGBTQ people at every step," Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of the civil rights group GLAAD, said in a statement.

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