Attempt to Overturn Gay Spousal Rights in Houston

Texas Governor, Greg Abbott. Photo by World Travel & Tourism Council. CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

A previously rejected case attacking spousal rights for gay spouses of government officials in Houston, Texas, is now being reconsidered by the Texas Supreme Court.

This decision was evidently supported by the efforts of three government officials in the state: Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The three officials submitted a “friend of the court” brief to the Texas Supreme Court, in an attempt to get the Court to reconsider the previously dismissed argument.

The three men argued that gay spouses of government officials can be denied their marriage rights because the 2015 Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges that made the law of the land doesn’t enforce spousal rights, in their opinion. They filed this brief on October 1, 2016.

This case could be seen as denial on the part of the officials that the Supreme Court decision is superior to state decisions on gay marriage matters. This authority is defined by  the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause.

On top of that, as Houston’s backers in this case have argued, to deliberately deny gay couples from having the same marriage rights as straight couples in Houston is illegal. As they have previously explained, denying their rights would violate the Equal Protection Clause set out in the 14th Amendment.

While this case is currently limited to the city of Houston, Texas, there is a possibility that it could reappear in other parts of the nation. This scenario could occur if opponents of gay marriage across the country attempt to follow this case’s lead.

The community in Houston and the nation as a whole can only hope that the Texas Supreme Court upholds the 2015 Supreme Court ruling as the law, instead of kowtowing to the desires of these three officials.

The last thing this nation’s LGBTQ community needs is for a slippery slope of legal regression to occur, especially now that Trump is officially the president.

Oral arguments for this case will begin on March 1.

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