The Texas Supreme Court ruled this morning that same-sex couples have no right to equal benefits, contradicting the Obergefell decision that spread marriage equality nationwide. The decision was unanimous.
The Obergefell decision states that marriage “safeguards children and families and thus draws meaning from related rights of childrearing, procreation, and education.” That indicates that not only do same-sex couples have the right to marry, but a right to the benefits that flow from marriage, especially to protect children of same-sex couples who are married.
Former Houston Mayor Annise Parker extended city benefits such as insurance coverage to all city employees who were married. Previously, they were granted only to opposite-sex couples.
The Texas Supreme Court ruled that the Obergefell decision didn’t relate to all marriage matters, only the right to marry, and states had a right to regulate how the decision was implemented.
An interesting piece of Texas history came up in the trial record. Technically, same-sex marriage has only been illegal in Texas since the early 1970s:
“In the early 1970s, for example, two men obtained a Texas marriage license when one of them appeared before the county clerk dressed as a woman. … In response, the Texas Legislature amended the Texas Family Code to expressly provide that a marriage license ‘may not be issued for the marriage of persons of the same sex.’”
The city of Houston, the defendant in the case, is expected appeal the ruling.
In its wisdom, the Texas Supreme Court didn’t mention whether interracial couples could receive equal benefits.