Although voters in Houston barred the city in 2001 from forcing taxpayers to provide spousal benefits for “married” homosexuals who work for the government, former mayor Annise Parker, a lesbian, ordered the city to do it anyway years later. A pastor and an accountant sued, and a court temporarily blocked the move.
The city of Houston is trying to have the case heard in federal court, but the courts keep sending it back to the state.
The Texas Supreme Court eventually heard the case and agreed with Mayor Parker that “any effort to resolve whether and the extent to which the Constitution requires states or cities to provide tax-funded benefits to same-sex couples without considering Obergefell would simply be erroneous. On the other hand, we agree … that the Supreme Court did not address and resolve that specific issue in Obergefell.”
The court nevertheless sent the case back to the state.
Houston appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which denied a hearing. The city appealed again to federal court, but a U.S. district court judge denied the request and ordered Houston to pay attorney’s fees to the pastor and accountant who brought the case against city.
Several years ago, Mayor Parker ordered pastors who sued the city over the so-called Houston Equal Rights Ordinance to turn over sermons and other documents that mentioned the sin of homosexuality. After an outcry, she rescinded the subpoena. The measure was put on the ballot for voters to decide, and they soundly rejected it.
Afterward, Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law to protect residents from being compelled to turn over sermons and other documents or to testify about them.
Photo credit: American Life League (Creative Commons) – Some rights reserved