AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton today applauded the U.S. Supreme Court after it declined to review a decision by the Texas Supreme Court, which ruled in June that former Houston Mayor Annise Parker exceeded her authority when she tried to force taxpayers to pay for spousal employment benefits for city employees with same-sex partners while the law of Texas recognized marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman.
Two Houston taxpayers sued the city of Houston after former Mayor Parker extended spousal employment benefits to same-sex couples married in other states. The Texas Supreme Court overruled a lower court ruling that upheld the policy and concluded that the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodgesdeclaring a constitutional right to same-sex marriage “did not hold that states must provide publicly funded benefits to all married persons.”
“We’re pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court let stand the Texas Supreme Court ruling that the right to a marriage license does not entitle same-sex couples to employee benefits at the expense of Texas taxpayers,” Attorney General Paxton said. “The city of Houston’s former mayor illegally extended those benefits while the traditional, Texas definition of marriage was still in full force.”
In October 2016, Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a joint amicus brief with the Texas Supreme Court urging it to affirm that the U.S. Supreme Court’s announcement of a right to same-sex marriage in Obergefell does not resolve all legal issues related to marriage. Before this case, Attorney General Paxton defended Texas’ marriage laws in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.