Officials with Lambda Legal have pledged that their organization will “work with Houston attorneys to defend marriage” in response to the Texas Supreme Court ruling issued today claiming that legally-married same-sex couples do not have the right to marriage benefits.
In a statement released shortly after the Supreme Court ruling was announced, Lambda Legal accused the Texas Supreme court of defying the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, and pledged to help lead the fight to fully secure endangered marriage equality rights.
The Texas Supreme Court’s ruling came in the case Pidgeon v. Turner, originally filed in late 2013 as Pidgeon v. Parker, challenging then-Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s announcement that the city would begin offering health insurance and other benefits to the same-sex spouses of city employees.
Kenneth D. Upton Jr., senior counsel in Lambda Legal’s South Central Regional Office in Dallas, declared, “This absurd contortion of the Obergefell ruling defies all logic and reason, especially in light of the Supreme Court’s explicit ruling on Monday (June 26) that marriage is marriage and equal is equal. We will take steps to protect these families. The Court was very clear in the majority opinion about the scope of what marriage entails.”
Eric Lesh, director of Lambda Legal’s Fair Courts Projects, added that the Texas court ruling “is political and is an example of why elected judges are bad for LGBT people and bad for judicial independence.”
Saying that today’s ruling in Pidgeon v. Turner “revives a case that was dead and sends it back to the trial court to give the parties another chance to attack the marriage of same-sex couples,” the Lambda Legal statement points that that the ruling also “flies in the face of the Supreme Court’s summary reversal on Monday of an Arkansas Supreme Court ruling, in Pavan v. Smith, stating explicitly that states may not treat same-sex married couples differently than other married couples.”
The Lambda Legal statement called the Texas Supreme Court’s reading of SCOTUS’ Obergefell and Pavan decisions “clearly erroneous,” pointing that the Obergefell ruling plainly states that while states are free to vary the benefits they confer on all married couples, “There is no difference between same- and opposite-sex couples with respect to this principle. Yet by virtue of their exclusion from that institution, same-sex couples are denied the constellation of benefits that the states have linked to marriage.”
And in the Pavan decision issued just this week, SCOTUS reiterated the earlier ruling’s breadth: “As we explained [in Obergefell], a state may not ‘exclude same-sex couples from civil marriage on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples.’ Indeed, in listing those terms and conditions — the ‘rights, benefits, and responsibilities’ to which same-sex couples, no less than opposite-sex couples, must have access — we expressly identified ‘birth and death certificates.’ That was no accident…”
Upton added that the Obergefell decision “similarly … listed health insurance.”
Meanwhile, back at the homophobic ranch, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was busy issuing his own statement heaping praise on the bigots of the Texas Supreme Court.
“I’m extremely pleased that the Texas Supreme Court recognized that Texas law is still important when it comes to marriage,” Paxton said. “While the U.S. Supreme Court declared a right to same-sex marriage, that ruling did not resolve all legal issues related to marriage.”
Paxton’s statement also pointed out that he and Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — both also homophobes on par with Paxton — had filed an amicus brief in the Pidgeon case urging the Texas Supreme Court to allow the lawsuit to continue, and noting that Paxton’s case had defended Texas’ unconstitutional anti-marriage-equality laws before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Paxton’s statement today did not, however, point out that immediately following the Obergefell ruling Paxton encouraged Texas county clerks to defy the federal court and refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.