Pidgeon v. Turner
Update December 4, 2017: Today the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition for review, and the case will continue through the Texas court.
Update October 20, 2017: GLAD and NCLR submitted an amicus brief requesting the Court grant cert in this case.
The Texas State Supreme Court issued its ruling June 30, 2017, in Pidgeon v. Turner, in which petitioners have challenged the City of Houston’s provision of benefits to the same-sex spouses of city employees. The court vacated a trial court injunction which would have barred the City from providing the benefits. But the court also sent the case – which dates to before the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court marriage equality ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges – back to the trial court to consider whether Obergefell settles the question of the City’s power to issue the benefits. This overly cautious, technical approach ignores the obvious and only correct result of this litigation.
Mary L. Bonauto, Civil Rights Project Director for GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), who argued Obergefell before the U.S. Supreme Court, issued the following statement:
“While the immediate and, I am confident, eventual final result here is that married same-sex couples in Houston and throughout Texas will continue to receive the equal treatment – including equal access to spousal benefits – the U.S. Constitution guarantees them, I am profoundly disappointed that the Texas Supreme Court did not take the opportunity it had today to resolve this case once and for all.
“The U.S. Supreme Court in Obergefell unambiguously recognized the fundamental and equal right to marry for same-sex couples nationwide, together with access to all the same legal rights, benefits and responsibilities associated with marriage without discrimination – a recognition the Court, in fact, just re-affirmed this week in Pavan v. Smith. For the Texas court to leave open the possibility that Obergefell could be read otherwise is, plainly, wrong.”
GLAD, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the ACLU of Texas and the ACLU foundation submitted an amicus brief in Pidgeon v. Turner, a case that went before the Texas Supreme Court challenging the City of Houston’s provision of benefits to married same-sex couples.
The brief argues that this matter was settled by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 2015 ruling in Obergefell, which clearly stated that same-sex couples must be granted access to marriage on the same terms as different-sex couples, including the same legal rights, benefits and responsibilities.