Another win for conservatives not covered in the mainstream media is the irresponsible and reckless use of the judiciary system by Houston’s mayors. In a zig zag of bureaucratic court maneuvering, Democratic Houston mayors lost in their attempt to use the court system to go around the law.
The issue dates to 2013 when Houston officials ignored state law and recognized same-sex unions and funded same-sex spousal benefits. At the time, the former mayor and open lesbian Annise Parker defied state law and ordered the City of Houston to recognize same-sex “marriages” from other states even though Texas law prohibited same-sex marriage and the U.S. Supreme Court had not yet ruled on the issue. Houston taxpayers Jack Pidgeon and Larry Hicks sued Mayor Parker and the city in state court and asked the state judiciary to enjoin the city’s policy.
Since 2013 the city’s attorneys in the case have sought to transfer the case of providing benefits against state law to federal court, bypassing state court. At the time, the former mayor and open lesbian Annise Parker defied state law and ordered the City of Houston to recognize same-sex “marriages” from other states even though Texas law prohibited same-sex marriage and the U.S. Supreme Court had not yet ruled on the issue. Houston taxpayers Jack Pidgeon and Larry Hicks sued Mayor Parker and the city in state court and asked the state judiciary to enjoin the city’s policy.
This Spring, in a major victory for Texas Values and Houston taxpayers, a federal judge once again rejected the City of Houston’s efforts to transfer a lawsuit over the illegal benefits it provides to same-sex couples into federal court.
The judge found the city’s arguments for federal jurisdiction baseless, returned the case to state court, and ordered the city to pay the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees. This ruling was the second time the City of Houston failed to transfer this litigation into federal court. In 2013, the city’s lawyers were rebuffed by U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal.
“This is the fourth time that a court has ruled against the City of Houston in this case. It’s utterly irresponsible that the City of Houston continues to violate the law and spend thousands and thousands of taxpayer dollars on a legal matter that they keep losing,” Jonathan Saenz, one of the Texas Values attorneys, said in a statement.
“Once again, the City of Houston continues to delay having a court rule on Mayor Parker’s unlawful executive order regarding using taxpayer dollars to fund same-sex benefits. I am thankful that the federal court promptly disposed of the City of Houston’s meritless motion and sent the case back to state court,” Jared Woodfill, trial counsel, for Texas Values added.
Texas Values explains the history of the case:
Taxpayers Pidgeon and Hicks initially were victorious in this case in 2014, and secured an injunction from a state trial court that forbade the city to provide spousal employment benefits to same-sex couples. But a state appellate court reversed that injunction after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex marriage was a constitutional right. Pidgeon and Hicks appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, and the state supreme court ruled last June, in a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Jeffrey S. Boyd, that Pidgeon and Hicks could proceed with their lawsuit against the city.
On Dec. 4, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the City of Houston’s request to review the case.
Since the case began more than 70 elected officials—including Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton have filed amicus briefs and expressed support for the plaintiffs, Pidgeon and Hicks.