The Texas Supreme Court has ruled against government benefits for gay married couples.
The decision overturns a lower court decision and sets the stage for a new trial in the Lone Star State.
Conservatives are hoping the case will help chip away at the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell v Hodges decision that legalized gay marriage. Their chief argument in the Texas case: states should decide on the issue of spousal benefits because Obergefell didn’t declare them to be a fundamental right of marriage.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Jared Woodfill called the decision a victory for states’ rights and religious liberty.
“The court has limited Obergefell in terms of how broadly it should be interpreted,” Woodfill told the Houston Chronicle, adding, “It recognized that there’s an argument to be made at the trial court that taxpayer dollars should not be used in violation of one’s deeply held religious beliefs.”
Woodfill hopes that the Texas case will eventually overturn Obergefell.
He originally filed a lawsuit against Houston Mayor Annise Parker in 2013, arguing that she broke Texas state law by using taxpayer dollars to pay for same-sex benefits for city employees. Texas voters approved a ban on gay marriage in 2005.
Gay rights groups denounced the Texas high court ruling and the current mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner, said the city won’t stop providing same-sex benefits. “Marriage equality is the law of the land and everyone is entitled to the full benefits of marriage, regardless of the gender of their spouse,” said Turner.