Sign Up to Receive Email Action Alerts From Issa Exposed

Houston to appeal decision prohibiting domestic partnership benefits

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

Texas state sealThe city of Houston will appeal a recent order barring it from providing domestic partnership benefits to same-sex spouses of city employees, Lone Star Q reports:

City Attorney David Feldman said the city didn’t receive notice before a judge held a hearing Tuesday and issued the order. Feldman is also questioning how a lawsuit filed by Harris County GOP Chair Jared Woodfill on behalf of two taxpayers challenging the benefits ended up in family court instead of civil district court. State District Judge Lisa Millard, a Republican who presides over the 310th Family District Court, issued the order halting the benefits pending a hearing on Jan. 6.

“If this had been filed in a regular civil district court, be assured the city would have received notice and been given the opportunity to be there before any restraining order was entered,” Feldman told the Chronicle.

Woodfill said the case belongs in family court because it deals in part with a section of the Texas Family Code passed in 2003 that bans recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages. Woodfill also said he hopes Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott will intervene in the case.

Earlier this week, Ken Upton, a senior staff attorney at Lambda Legal’s Dallas office, told Lone Star Q that the lawsuit challenging the city’s benefits decision “seems to be a loser,” arguing that the city is bound by equal protection principles to treat its LGBT employees the same as its non-LGBT employees.

“Lesbian and gay employees of the City clock in just the same as their non-gay colleagues, yet the City Charter provision places them on a lower pay scale by limiting family health coverage to ‘legal spouses’ only — a status that Texas purports to make available to heterosexual couples, but no lesbian or gay couples,” Upton told the news site. “Non-gay couples can simply marry to get the benefits, same-sex couples cannot, and the State offers them no other way to obtain those employee benefits. At least other municipalities and political subdivisions have provided alternative ways to access the benefits — such as El Paso’s ‘other qualified adult’ system or cities that utilize a form of domestic partnership to satisfy the insurer’s requirements.”


  • 1. Dr. Z  |  December 20, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Whatever happened in that Arizona lawsuit against their DP prohibition? Wasn't that appealed to SCOTUS this year?

  • 2. ebohlman  |  December 20, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    It's ongoing. What was appealed to the SCOTUS (and denied cert) was a preliminary injunction requiring AZ to continue to provide existing benefits until the case is decided.

  • 3. Steve  |  December 20, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    It shouldn't have been heard in district court either. Tax payers simply can't sue because they don't like how money is spent. That's well established.

  • 4. W. Kevin Vicklund  |  December 21, 2013 at 7:52 am

    That's only true for federal and state-wide issues. Taxpayer standing for local issues is long recognized as valid. Not saying I agree with the distinction, but it exists.

  • 5. Marriage Equality Round-U&hellip  |  December 21, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    […] USA, Texas: Houston is appealing a decision which struck down its domestic partner benefits for employees with same sex spouses. full story […]

Having technical problems? Visit our support page to report an issue!