Same-Sex Marriage Benefits Blocked by Judge After Harris County GOP Sues City of Houston

Houston Mayor Annise ParkerThe Harris County GOP sued the City of Houston on Tuesday, challenging Mayor Annise Parker's decision to extend health and life insurance benefits to legally married same-sex couples whose marriages have been recognized in states with marriage equality laws.

The new policy has been put on hold by District Judge Lisa Millard after signing a temporary restraining order. The policy won't go before a judge until next month after New Year's Day, on Jan. 6, 2014.

Jared Woodfill, the chairman of the Harris County GOP, is leading the lawsuit. "This is one of the most egregious acts by an elected official I've ever seen," said Woodfill. "They just decided to, unilaterally, as a lame duck, thumb their nose at the will of the people and just spit on the U.S. Constitution."

Where exactly in the U.S. Constitution does it say gay marriage is illegal remains to be mystery.

Woodfill immediately lashed out against Parker last month following her decision. Woodfill complained to the Quorum Report that Parker was abusing her position as mayor, showing just how much of an "extreme liberal" she was in not sharing the same values of Texans and Houstonians. These values, according to whatever fantasy world Republicans still live in, must continue to be homophobic and anti-gay.

But, in reality, based on findings by the Equality Poll 2013 conducted by Equality Texas, a large majority of Texans (65.7 percent) support extending same-sex partnership benefits to city and public university employees. Exactly what Mayor Annise Parker did in Houston last month.

Woodfill's lawsuit claims that Parker's decision to extend 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. The Texas National Guard had previously been relying on similar reasoning to use as an excuse not to process benefits for same-sex military couples until finally caving in on pressure by the Pentagon just last month.

City Attorney David Feldman said the two men who filed the lawsuit against the city don't appear to have any legal standing and, therefore, it will likely just be thrown out. "They don't appear to have any particular state to complain about this," said Feldman. "Just being a taxpayer isn't enough."

Parker's decision to extend equal benefits to all married couples was based on Feldman's legal interpretation of the recent U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The Court's ruling has now began granting equal federal recognition to all married couples.

Mayor Parker has currently not issued any comments on the matter.  

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