TFN Statement on Texas Supreme Court’s Ruling on Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses of Public Employees

by TFN

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller is expressing her shock and dismay after the Texas Supreme Court today ruled that state and local governments do not have to treat the same-sex spouses of their employees equally to opposite-sex spouses when it comes to employment benefits.

“Anyone who believes in equality for all under the law has to be shocked by such an irresponsible decision,” Miller said. “This really is a cannon shot in a relentless war being waged by our state’s elected leaders not just against the equality and dignity of LGBT Texans, but also against the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court and the Constitution itself. They seem hell-bent on landing in the history books as the last, desperate defenders of discrimination.”

Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton have denounced the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges ruling two years ago striking down state bans on same-sex marriage. Paxton even initially released a formal opinion suggesting that local officials didn’t have to obey that ruling and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Those three and other elected officials in the state also called on the Texas Supreme Court to clarify whether state and local governments have to provide benefits to the same-sex married spouses of public employees on an equal basis with opposite-sex married spouses.

On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an Arkansas law that treated married same-sex couples differently from married opposite-sex couples on their children’s birth certificates. That order noted that the Obergefell decision specifically stated that same-sex couples are entitled to civil marriage “on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples” and that states cannot “exclude same-sex couples from civil marriage on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples.” In listing the “rights, benefits, and responsibilities” that are part of those “terms and conditions” of marriage, the Obergefell ruling specifically noted health insurance.

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