Lawsuit Challenges Benefits for Partners of Government Employees

A Texas judge recently declined to enact an injunction on benefits for government employee's same-sex partners in McAllen County. The motion for an injunction was brought as a part of a pending case challenging the county's decision to offer health benefits to same-sex couples just as they do for legally married couples. The injunction sought to put a hold on benefits currently being provided to same-sex couples.

Same-sex marriage is illegal in Texas per a recent constitutional amendment approved by the voters. The lawsuit argues that government employers offering these benefits violates that constitutional provision.

Up to this point, the lawsuit has been successful, winning a favorable opinion from the Texas Attorney General. The denial of the injunction was the first setback for the taxpayer who says he is being adversely affected by the provision of benefits by government employers.

This is a controversial but increasingly relevant topic to many Texas employees who are seeking health insurance benefits for their significant others. 

Many private-sector workers already have access to these types of benefits because companies are choosing to provide them voluntarily, noting that inclusive policies help attract the best and brightest employees regardless of their background. The success of this lawsuit would not impact the benefits of those individuals. If the taxpayer does succeed in proving that government employers are not legally permitted to provide these benefits one possible impact would be having gay employees leave their positions at government jobs in order to seek more inclusive policies in the private sector. 

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Judge Won't Toss Benefits for Same-Sex Partners," David Lee, May 24, 2013.