The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday let stand a Texas ruling that said the right to a marriage license did not entitle same-sex couples to spousal benefits under employee insurance plans.
The city of Houston asked the high court overturn last June’s Texas Supreme Court decision that determined all marriage-related matters were not decided when the U.S. Supreme Court found a right to same-sex marriage.
The federal court’s decision, issued without comment, allows the Texas court’s ruling to stand. Lawyers for Houston argued that the Texas court’s ruling was wrong and short-sighted.
“Equal recognition of same-sex marriage requires more than a marriage license; it requires equal access to the constellation of benefits that the state has linked to marriage,” the city’s lawyers told the court.
The original Texas Supreme Court noted that Obergefell requires states to license and recognize same-sex marriages just as they do opposite-sex marriages but did not hold that “states must provide the same publicly funded benefits to all married persons.”
The question remains that Edie Windsor’s case settled that issue (equal spousal benefits), albeit at the federal level, so SCOTUS declining to hear a case involving equal spousal benefits at the state level is not only puzzling but should also be taken as a warning to us all.