Issue of same-sex couples' benefits handed back to Texas lower courts

Issue of same-sex couples' benefits handed back to Texas lower courts

The highest court in Texas has thrown out a lower-court ruling that favored same-sex couples. The issue of government-subsidized workplace benefits will now go back to the lower courts.

“Everybody wants to take care of the people who they love,” Irma Montelongo said.

It's a blow to Texas same-sex couples and their allies.

“I think just like heterosexuals, the homosexuals should have the same benefits,” Romana Alatorre said.

Friday’s ruling means federal> employees may not be able to extend subsidized marriage benefits to their same-sex spouse.

“It would be everything covering insurance benefits, medical leave, all those things are not going to be covered,” Cynthia Lopez, an attorney, said.

The Texas Supreme Court ruled the 2015 same-sex marriage decision by the U.S. Supreme Court did not resolve the issue of taxpayer-funded benefits for same-sex couples.

“The Supreme Court will have to hear it again and clarify if they so choose,” Lopez said.

Lopez is the president of the El Paso Queer Bar Association. She said conservatives have argued that funding the benefits will be a huge burden on taxpayers. Lopez believes the cost will be even greater in future litigation.

“It's probably millions of dollars, it's not going to end here,” Lopez said. “If it does go to the Supreme Court, it's ridiculous amounts of money in litigation that we're talking about and nobody mentions that.”

The wait, though, for a final decision is disheartening to the LGBTQ community.

“We work hard, we pay taxes, we're functioning citizens, so there's no need to do what you're trying to do,” Montelongo said.

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