The Texas Supreme Court ruled unanimously today that couples in same-sex marriages have no inherent right to government-provided spousal benefits.
The all-Republican court claimed that Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 Supreme Court case that brought marriage equality to all 50 states, left some issues open, and provided room for states to explore its “reach and ramifications.”
The matter, however, is not settled: Friday’s ruling means the case returns to Harris County district court, which will determine if the SCOTUS marriage ruling actually applies to benefits provided by the city of Houston.
In 2013, when same-sex marriage was still unrecognized in Texas, Houston Mayor Annise Parker granted benefits to same-sex spouses of city employees who had married in other states. Anti-LGBT activists filed suit, claiming Parker violated an amendment in the Texas Constitution that prohibited any action recognizing a same-sex union.
They lost their case and, in September, the state Supreme Court initially rejected their appeal. But then conservatives launched an email campaign that threatened the justices with repercussions in the next GOP library—and, in January, the court issued a rare motion to rehear the case.
“The Texas Supreme Court’s decision this morning is a warning shot to all LGBTQ Americans that the war on marriage equality is ever-evolving,” said GLAAD’s Sarah Kate Ellis. “And anti-LGBTQ activists will do anything possible to discriminate against our families.”
Appeals are already being planned by supporters of marriage equality.