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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.”

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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.

Whole Women’s Health v. Cole

On June 27, 2016 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the draconian restrictions that the state of Texas had imposed on abortion providers in 2013.

GLAD and a coalition of 13 other LGBT, racial justice, and health equity organizations filed an amicus brief in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down draconian restrictions on abortion providers enacted by the State of Texas in 2013. If upheld, the restrictions would have led to the closing of most abortion clinics in the state.

The brief urged the Court to carefully scrutinize the state’s asserted justification for the law, as the Court has done with other laws that infringe upon fundamental freedoms. The State of Texas has argued that the law protects the health of women seeking abortion, but the evidence at trial showed just the opposite. Medical organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Association, and the American Public Health Association have explained that the restrictions imposed by the new law are medically unnecessary and endanger, rather than advance, women’s health.

Pseudo-science has been used throughout American history to exclude individuals and groups from the full protection of essential constitutional liberties, including laws barring interracial marriage, excluding women from certain professions, permitting the forced sterilization of those deemed “inferior,” and criminalizing and discriminating against LGBT people. GLAD and its fellow amici urge the Court to look to this history and fulfill its constitutional obligation to examine carefully the State’s asserted justifications for restricting women’s fundamental right to reproductive autonomy.

In addition to GLAD, the organizations filing the brief are the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Equal Justice Society, the National Black Justice Coalition, the Family Equality Council, the Human Rights Campaign, the National LGBTQ Task Force, GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality, Equality Federation, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, Immigration Equality, the National Health Law Program, Movement Advancement Project, and Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom.

Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin et al

June 23, 2016: Victory! The Supreme Court has ruled 4-3 that the UT Austin race-conscious admissions program in question is lawful under the Equal Protection Clause.

GLAD joined the National Women’s Law Center, Lambda Legal and allied organizations in filing a friend-of-the-court brief in this case before the U.S. Supreme Court concerning the consideration of race in undergraduate admissions decisions.

The brief argues that racial and ethnic disparities can be diminished when stereotypes are confronted by reality – the daily contacts and differing perspectives offered by students of varying backgrounds. The brief focuses on women and LGBT persons of color, asserting that the cause of eradicating discrimination on the basis of sex, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity “is closely aligned with the interest in eliminating race discrimination” and that “successfully breaking down one form of discrimination tends to reduce others as well.”

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Mayer Brown LLP is lead counsel on the brief.