Houston Loses Latest Battle for LGBT City Worker Benefits But Vows to Continue the War

Nearly three years after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, the city of Houston continues to battle for the rights of its gay workers. On Tuesday, a judge struck down Houston's attempts to defend its city benefits policy in federal court. The case will be remanded back to state court, and the city will have to pay the legal fees of the two men suing to overturn the policy, which extends spousal benefits to same-sex marriages.The outcome of this case will be limited to the city of Houston. Dallas has a similar policy that has not been challenged. But the fight is a good example of the war waged to erase, erode or at least stop the expansion of LGBT rights since since the 2015 marriage ruling, Noel Freeman said. "These are people who are never, ever going to give up. They are going to go to their grave hating us," Freeman, the first city of Houston employee to receive spousal benefits for his husband, told The Dallas Morning News on Wednesday. "And there is no court case ... that's going to change their minds."That's just the way it is."Pidgeon vs. ParkerThe Houston case dates to 2013, when then-Mayor Annise Parker extended benefits for city workers to their same-sex spouses. Houston pastor Jack Pidgeon and local accountant Larry Hicks sued Parker, who is openly gay, stating that city employees did not have a "fundamental right" to receive government-subsidized benefits funded by taxpayer money.While gay marriage has been legal since 2015, the Texas Supreme Court ruled last year that it's unclear what other rights gay couples have. The city appealed this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case and kicked it back to Texas in December.  Continue reading...

Copyright The Dallas Morning News
Contact Us