Houston Mayor Moves Same-Sex Marriage Benefits Lawsuit Out of Republican Judge's Court

Another major move in the legal battle over preserving Houston's same-sex benefits: Mayor Annise Parker and the city of Houston moved a lawsuit by the Harris County GOP out of Republican Judge Lisa Millard's court.

The Republican judge halted the city's same-sex benefits policy by signing a temporary restraining order without first giving the city any proper notice.

City Attorney David Feldman filed a notice of removal this past weekend arguing the lawsuit filed by the Harris County GOP against same-sex marriage benefits belongs in a U.S. district court.

The notice of removal also brings light of how Republican Judge Lisa Millard failed to notify Mayor Annise Parker and the city of Houston before holding a hearing the exact same day Republicans filed the lawsuit, and then immediately signing a temporary restraining order halting the new same-sex benefits policy enacted by Parker in November.

Because, it's not exactly like Republicans are known for respecting rules.

The notice of removal has now automatically moved the lawsuit case into federal court. Republicans are going to have to ask a federal judge to remand their case in order to get it back to state court.

Leading the lawsuit is Jared Woodfill, chairman of the Harris County GOP. Woodfill claims Parker's decision to extend equal benefits to all married couples — regardless if opposite- or same-sex — violates the Houston's city charter, the state Defense of Marriage Act and the Texas Constitution.

Earlier last week, the pro-LGBT legal group, Lambda Legal, filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Houston fighting to preserve the new same-sex marriage benefits policy. The federal lawsuit was filed by the organization on behalf of three LGBT city employees.

The two lawsuits may now be consolidated in federal court, possibly further bringing up a case over the actual legality of Texas' ban on same-sex marriage.

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