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Anti-same sex employee benefits lawsuit moved back to state court

On and on we go.

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.”

[…]

In a last-ditch effort to shift the fight to federal court, Houston asked to move the case to the Southern District Court earlier this year. On Tuesday, Judge Kenneth Hoyt ruled the city did not prove federal court was the proper venue and ordered it to pay Pidgeon and Hicks’ legal fees.

The case will be remanded to Harris County District Court. Married gay city employees will continue to receive benefits for their spouses until a final ruling.

See here for previous coverage of this atrocity, which is still a thing because our feckless State Supreme Court allowed itself to be pressured into giving the case a second chance after previously refusing to consider it. Noel Freeman, who’s a friend of mine, is quite right that the people pursuing this action (including Jared Woodfill) will never give up – if this suit is ultimately ruled against them, they’ll find some other pretext to keep LGBT folks from being treated as full and equal members of society. We all need to oppose the politicians who enable these haters, and support those who favor equality. It’s the only way this will get better.

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4 Comments

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    I’d like to know some numbers about this. How many gay spouses are requesting subsidized benefits from the City of Houston? 100? 1,000? What is the cost to the city for each of those people, potentially?

    How many other cities in Texas provide benefits for gay spouses? What’s the percentage of cities that do vs. the total number of cities?

    I’m not saying I oppose this, but for current workers, they were hired knowing the rules. To now give them extra benefit subsidy money isn’t really fair to the taxpayers. The workers took those jobs knowing the rules, and accepting the compensation package offered.

    Changing the rules to give the subsidies to new hires seems reasonable, but then you’d put the existing gay workers in a position where they would have to quit and try and be rehired in order to get what a guy who just got hired gets.

    It’s complicated, so to make it easier, just tell the taxpayers how much extra this is going to cost them with the existing employees, and estimate how much it will cost for new hires going forward.

  2. Jules says:

    This is ridiculous. Married is married. Of course all spouses should be covered.

  3. mollusk says:

    “It’s (the made up two tier system) complicated, so to make it easier” just treat everyone the same.

    There, FIFY.

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