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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 3 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 01
Houston Mayor acts to protect spousal benefits
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Houston Mayor acts to protect spousal benefits

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Houston Mayor Annise Parker and City Attorney David Feldman have moved a lawsuit blocking spousal benefits for same-sex couples from a hostile Texas state court to federal court.

The suit was filed in November by the Harris County Republican Party, to block Parker's plans to offer spousal benefits to the partners of city employees if the couple had been married in a jurisdiction where that is legal.

Texas Judge Lisa Millard issued a restraining order blocking Parker and the city government from paying benefits to same-sex spouses.

Feldman filed a notice of removal on December 28, arguing that the case properly belongs in federal court. Feldman also charged that Judge Millard acted improperly by failing to notify Parker that she was holding a hearing on the GOP suit before issuing her restraining order.

On December 27, Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of three married Gay and Lesbian employees of the City of Houston, to preserve the city's spousal benefits policy. Ironically, Parker is named as the defendant in the suit.

Lambda Legal previously filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of three Houston couples challenging the 2005 Texas constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage.

Moving the spousal benefits case into federal court will allow all the cases to be consolidated into a single federal challenge to Texas marriage law.

Republicans will now have to go before a federal judge and request the spousal benefits case be remanded to the state court if they want to avoid a combined trial.

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