Judge Refuses to Order Houston to Offer Benefits to Same Sex Partners

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For a second time, a federal judge has refused to require the City of Houston to provide standard employee benefits to the same sex partners and spouses of City workers, even though same sex marriage is now legal, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

A conservative group, Texas Values, has been fighting for years a policy which was initiated in 2013, before the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 Obergefell Ruling that legalized gay marriage, to institute what is called 'One Plus' system of providing benefits, and allowing them to be expanded to same sex partners.

But the rulings do not actually rule on the legality of same sex benefits.  In all cases, the judges have ruled that they cannot order the City of Houston to offer benefits to same sex partners because there is no federal law requiring employees to be offered benefits of any sort.  Unlike laws setting minimum wages, and prohibiting various types of discrimination in the workplace, benefits are not required by law, and the City of Houston, and any employer, can choose to not offer benefits to anybody.

“This is the fourth time that a court has ruled against the City of Houston in this case. It’s utterly irresponsible that the City of Houston continues to violate the law and spend thousands and thousands of taxpayer dollars on a legal matter that they keep losing,” said Jonathan Saenz, one of the lawyers for the winning Houston taxpayers in the case.

Most cities and counties in Texas, including San Antonio and Bexar County, as do most private businesses, offer spousal benefits to same sex partners of employees, but those plans are not covered by this lawsuit.

Photo: Getty Images

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