Judge bars Houston from offering gay benefits

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A state district judge has again ordered Houston to stop providing health benefits to the spouses of gay employees, but city officials are fighting back with an immediate appeal.

“The City is prohibited from furnishing benefits to persons who were married in other jurisdictions to City employees of the same sex,” State District Judge Lisa Millard wrote in the three-page order issued Wednesday.

It's the second time Millard has tried to halt the benefits, which Mayor Annise Parker extended to gay city employees in November 2013. The latest lawsuit, filed last week, is the second from conservative activist Jared Woodfill (photo). His first court challenge prompted Millard to halt the benefits, but that order was lifted in January when the city moved the case to federal court.

A second lawsuit by city employees denied the benefits prompted a federal judge to leave them in place until cases seeking to overturn the state's gay marriage ban are resolved.

On Wednesday, Millard also set a Dec. 14 trial date. But city officials quickly fired back in an effort to keep the benefits in place.

“The city is preparing an immediate appeal,” according to city spokesperson Janice Evans. “Once that appeal is filed, today’s ruling will be stayed and a previous order issued at the federal court level allowing the city to implement same sex spousal benefits will continue in effect. As a result, today’s action will have no impact on the status quo.”

Parker Same Sex Benefits DOC044 by Big Jolly Politics

 

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