Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has filed briefs arguing that a state court should be given an opportunity to declare Houston’s new policy of granting benefits to some same-sex partners of employees unlawful under Texas’ marriage laws.
In the first of two amicus briefs, Abbott argued that a lawsuit filed by a pair of Houston residents to stop Mayor Annise Parker’s decision last November to grant benefits to same-sex spouses of employees married legally in other states should remain in a state district court for review. The city has tried to get the case moved to federal court to take advantage of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year overturning the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Abbott’s amicus brief argues that moving the lawsuit to federal court deprives the state of its authority to resolve the cases involving Texas’ Defense of Marriage Act.
“The defendants have challenged the constitutionality of Texas’s marriage laws,” Abbott writes. “This case should be remanded to state court as soon as possible.”
Abbott’s second amicus brief came in another lawsuit filed by national gay rights group Lambda Legal in a bid to get a judge to uphold the mayor’s change in policy.
Abbott argues that since the Lambda Legal lawsuit seeks to uphold the city’s decision to offer benefits to same-sex marriage partners, there is no dispute for the federal court to decide. He asks that the Lambda Legal suit be dismissed.
See here, here, and here for the background. I had assumed Abbott would get involved once Mayor Parker made the announcement. To meddle is his nature, and I’m sure he was feeling some pressure from the usual suspects to Do Something. Indeed, Harris County GOP Chair Jared Woodfill hoped the suit would attract Abbott’s interest, so clearly everything is proceeding as planned. I Am Not A Lawyer, so I don’t know how to evaluate the merits of Abbott’s claims. I also can’t find the briefs in question, so you’re on your own if you want to venture some analysis. BOR, PDiddie, and Lone Star Q have more.