This lets the Texas ruling stand, and the Harris County court will consider the matter. Texas' 14th Court of Appeals said the ruling ended Pidgeon and Hicks' case and the city was allowed to offer spousal benefits to same-sex couples. "Today's abnegation by the nation's highest court opens the door for an onslaught of challenges to the rights of LGBTQ people at every step".
The case will now proceed in Texas state court to decide whether the benefits in Houston should be stopped for same-sex couples.
"Equal recognition of same-sex marriage requires more than a marriage license; it requires equal access to the constellation of benefits that the state has linked to marriage", Houston attorneys wrote in their brief to the court.
Image Jack Phillips runs Colorado's Masterpiece Cakeshop
Opponents of gay marriage had urged the high court to reject Houston's appeal, arguing that it did not open the door to discrimination, as city officials had claimed. One issue is whether that ruling means governments must provide the same benefits to all married employees.
In 2013, while Annise Parker, an out lesbian, was mayor of Houston, she offered employee benefits to same-sex spouses, causing gay marriage opponents to sue. As the link to Equality Case Files notes, it's possible they simply denied review because the case was remanded back to the lower courts so that it could reach the other courts again eventually.
The Texas court reversed its earlier decision to stay out of the case after coming under pressure from Gov. Greg Abbott and other leading Republicans.
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The high court ruled that states must give same-sex couples the same rights as opposite-sex couples or else the state would be giving same-sex couples "disparate treatment", something forbidden under Obergefell.
The ruling returned the lawsuit to a Houston district court to determine whether the U.S. Supreme Court's marriage ruling applies to spousal benefits provided by Houston. In the Arlene's Flowers case, similar to Masterpiece Cakeshop, the Court took no action.
It was June of this year when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 against an Arkansas law forbidding same-sex couples from being listed on a child's birth certificate.
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That does not mean Houston can "constitutionally deny benefits to its employees' same-sex spouses", the court added, but the issue must now be resolved "in light of Obergefell".
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