Texas Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Same-Sex Marriage Benefits Case

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelMarch 1, 2017 10:54 am

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

Today, the Texas Supreme Court hears oral arguments in a case that challenges the city of Houston’s benefits for married same-sex couples.

At stake in the case: whether the 2015 United States Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide requires public agencies to provide taxpayer-subsidized benefits to same-sex spouses of government employees.

Chuck Smith is the executive director of Equality Texas, an LGBT advocacy group. Smith says he’s the first to admit that there’s no constitutional right to employee benefits – but he adds the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision was clear.

“Same-sex couples, when it comes to marriage, have to be treated the same as opposite-sex couples,” he says. “If the city of Houston, or any employer for that matter, provides benefits to its married opposite-sex employees, then it’s obligated to extend those same benefits, on the same terms and conditions, to same-sex married couples.”

The Texas Supreme Court initially declined to take up the case last September.

But they reversed course in January after pressure from top Texas Republicans.

Of the many highlights from Sunday’s Oscars, one of the more political moments has a Texas tie.

Iranian director Asghar Farhadi won an Academy Award for “Best Foreign Language Film.” But he refused to attend the awards, in protest of President Donald Trump’s travel ban which barred people from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iran.

Instead, an Iranian-American woman from Plano accepted the award and read a statement on his behalf.

“Dividing the world into the ‘us and our enemies’ categories creates fear, a deceitful justification for aggression and war,” Anousheh Ansari read. “These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which have themselves been victims of aggression.”

She’s the CEO of Prodea Systems in Richardson.

Director Farhadi won for his film – “The Salesman”.

Writer and civil rights activist Shaun King was in Fort Worth Tuesday.

The New York Daily News columnist was in town as part of a weeklong series of events at Texas Christian University focused on diversity and inclusion.

King has been a vocal proponent of police reform and a close ally of the Black Lives Matter movement, using his column and large social media following to highlight what he sees as unjust police actions.

Tuesday, he met with Jacqueline Craig, the black Fort Worth woman who was aggressively arrested by a white police officer last year. King’s attention helped cellphone video of the event go viral.

“What I saw was just crazy to see,” Kings says. “I tried to look at it through the lens of a mother who calls for help and ends up being brutalized, threatened with her family, on the ground, in police cars, taken to jail.”

Craig said her family is still reeling after the arrests.