Supreme Court rejects Texas case on gay-marriage benefits

Court building in Washington DC

Court building in Washington DC

The initial case was an attempt by Texas conservatives to explore the limits of gay marriage following the Supreme Court's landmark 2015 gay marriage case Obergefell v. Hodges. The court's Monday decision, which came without any comment from court justices, allows a Texas Supreme Court ruling calling for a more in-depth discussion on what rights are allowed to same-sex spouses to stand.

This wouldn't have happened if Merrick Garland was on the court and/or Hillary Clinton was in the White House. In June 2017, pressure from Texas GOP leaders who oppose gay marriage pushed the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court to agree with them, despite having originally rejected the case in 2016.

The nation's highest court will hear oral arguments on Tuesday.

The Supreme Court is expected to take up this week the case over whether a Colorado baker discriminated against a gay couple because he declined to bake a cake for their wedding.

The case that goes before the U.S. Supreme Court for oral arguments on December 5 is a showdown between a gay couple from Colorado and a Denver-area baker who in 2012 cited his Christian faith in refusing to make a cake for their wedding celebration.

"The U.S. Supreme court could have taken the case and used it to further expand Obergefell".

In August, three Houston city employees and their spouses sued the city in federal court, concerned that the civil case could force the city to stop paying same-sex benefits.

In a rare reversal, the Supreme Court relented, accepting the case and eventually ruling that there is no established right to spousal benefits in same-sex marriages.

The case will now proceed in a Texas state court, which could decide to stop the benefits offered by the fourth most populous US city. A state trial court initially sided with them, but after the 2015 Obergefell decision, an appeals court reversed that ruling. "It's confirmation that the Texas Supreme Court got it right". Months later in November, U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore dismissed the case on the basis that plaintiffs' claims weren't ripe for review.

That does not mean Houston can "constitutionally deny benefits to its employees' same-sex spouses", the court added, but the issue must now be resolved "in light of Obergefell".

Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of the civil rights group GLAAD, said the U.S. Supreme Court "has just let an alarming ruling by the Texas Supreme Court stand which plainly undercuts the rights of married same-sex couples".

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