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Thursday, 26 April 2018 22:21

Houston fights to keep LGBT workers' spousal benefits

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houston

 

U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt overturned Houston's attempt to defend the policy that give benefits to the city's LGBT workers' spouses in a federal court. But even though we lost a battle for LGBT workers, the war goes on.

It's been three years now that Houston is fighting to allow same-sex workers' spouses to have the same benefits as everyone else. Indeed, in 2013, lesbian mayor Annise Parker had tried to bring equality to all city employees.

Houston pastor Jack Pidgeon and local accountant Larry Hicks had sued Parker claiming that city employees didn't have a "fundamental right" to benefits funded by taxpayer money.

Even though two years later, in 2015, marriage equality became legal in Texas, in 2017, the state's Supreme Court ruled against the policy. The city appealed the decision to the US Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case and sent it back to Texas in December.

At the beginning of the year, Houston decided to request that the case is moved to the southern district. Judge Kenneth ruled that the city hadn't proven that a federal court was the right place to rule on such a case. The case will be transferred to the District Court in Harris County.

Alan Bernstein, the spokesman for current Mayor Sylvester Turner, said the battle was not over.

"We are surprised by the district court's ruling," Bernstein told The News. "Wherever the case is litigated, the city will protect the rights of city employees under the United States Supreme Court case law."

For the moment, LGBT spouses will continue to receive the benefits.

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