Justices reject Houston appeal over benefits for gay spouses

'Gay wedding cake' case comes before US Supreme Court

Such a ruling again could be appealed to the nation's top court.

The Supreme Court won't take up a death penalty case from Alabama in which attorneys said African-American jurors were improperly excluded from the jury.

"Marriage equality is the law of the land, and everyone is entitled to the full benefits of marriage, regardless of the gender of their spouse", he said.

"Equal recognition of same-sex marriage requires more than a marriage license; it requires equal access to the constellation of benefits that the state has linked to marriage", the city's lawyers told the court.

But amid conservative efforts to relitigate that ruling, two Houston taxpayers - represented by same-sex marriage opponents - have moved forward with their case, arguing that the interpretation of Obergefell is too broad and that the right to marry does not "entail any particular package of tax benefits, employee fringe benefits or testimonial privileges". Houston has continued to provide benefits to all of its married employees through-out the pending litigation.

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In another case involving the scope of protections provided by the Obergefell decision, the Supreme Court in June overturned a state court ruling that had allowed Arkansas to refuse to list both same-sex spouses on birth certificates.

The Houston case began in 2013 when Jack Pidgeon, a local Christian pastor, and Larry Hicks, an accountant, sued the city after Annise Parker, a Democrat who was its first openly gay mayor, gave municipal spousal benefits such as health insurance and life insurance to same-sex married couples.

While it's a shame that the U.S. Supreme Court didn't knock down the Texas Supreme Court ruling today, this is hardly over.

The Texas high court had initially been reluctant to take the case, but chose to do so under pressure from Republican officials and antigay activists, including the Texas governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. So when gay marriage opponents came out of the woodwork, threatening to vote the all-Republican court off the bench if it didn't reconsider its decision - their argument being this was a great opportunity to restrict the effects of Obergefell - the Texas court took note.

In a rare reversal, the state Supreme Court relented, accepting the case and eventually ruling that there is no established right to spousal benefits in same-sex marriages. That will change once the Texas courts reach a decision, he said. The lawsuit was then forced to go back to the Houston District Court to determine that issue - whether Obergefell applies to spousal benefits for gays.

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