The U.S. Supreme Court today said it will not consider a Texas Supreme Court ruling that the 2015 decision legalizing same sex marriage does not, in essence, require taxpayers to pay for it, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The Texas Supreme Court ruled earlier this year in the case of two Houston taxpayers, who ware challenging that city's decision to allow employees to extend benefits to same sex spouses.
Jared Woodville, who represents the two men, says this is a major decision which will help throw out local laws nationwide requiring same sex benefits to be paid to government agency employees.
"The United States Supreme Court, by not taking the case, has ruled that it is not going to extend Obergefell into benefits," he told News Radio 1200 WOAI. "That is applicable to any jurisdiction that you are in."
The ruling cuts a major prop out of the 2015 Obergefell decision, which legalized same sex marriage, by removing one of the main reasons same sex couples want to get married, to be eligible for traditional spousal benefits. It also opens the doors for other benefits of marriage, from the ability to automatically inherit a deceased same sex spouses property at death, to hospital visitation rights, to be challenged.
The conservative group Texas Values painted the ruling as a victory for taxpayers, who will not have to foot the bill for the City of Houston to pay benefits to same sex spouses of employees.
What this ruling does is decouples benefits from same sex marriage, and Woodville says since there is no legal responsibility for a company to provide benefits to its workers, the ruling makes sense.
"It effectively means there is no fundamental rights to benefits," he said. "There has never been a fundamental right to benefits."
He pointed out that private employers, and public employers with the consent of the taxpayers, may offer benefits. The Houston men are attempting to force a public vote in Houston on whether the benefits should be offered. Houston voters have already rejected a 'non discrimination act which extended civil rights protections to LGBT individuals.