AUSTIN — The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up a Texas Supreme Court ruling that prevented same-sex spouses from having the same workplace insurance benefits as heterosexual couples. In a unanimous ruling in June, the Texas court acknowledged that same-sex marriage was legalized in 2015 with Obergefell vs. Hodges, but the justices said the decision did not make clear the additional rights of gay couples, in this case those who work for the government. Houston pastor Jack Pidgeon and accountant Larry Hicks sued the city in 2013 after former Mayor Annise Parker extended spousal benefits to all legally married couples, though a 2001 city charter amendment banned the practice. The two conservatives argued that city employees did not have a “fundamental right” to receive government-subsidized spousal benefits and that it was “perfectly constitutional” to extend benefits to some married couples and deny them to others.
No matter how much I endeavor to understand it, I’ve never been able to comprehend how some folks manage to conflate “Christian” with “homophobia.” This is especially true when it comes to men of the cloth. Shouldn’t a Christian pastor like Jack Pidgeon be following the teachings of the Lord and Savior he professes to revere? Wasn’t Jesus all about love, tolerance, acceptance, and inclusion? No one has ever been able to show me where Scripture sanctions and legitimizes bigotry and homophobia.
I get that the American Taliban is as much about the teachings of Jesus Christ as Timothy McVeigh was about peaceful conflict resolution. The “holier than thou” self-righteousness used to justify discriminating against a minority class of people isn’t a Christian value, even if some use it to justify hating and condemning those doing them no harm. I may not believe in God, but I spent enough time in Sunday School to know that Jesus didn’t preach conditional love. He didn’t stand on top of the Mount and preach the need to love others as you yourself would wish to be loved…unless those others are LGBTQ. In that case, they should go straight to Hell.
The president of Texas Values and an attorney for Pidgeon and Hicks called the U.S. Supreme Court’s action an “incredible early Christmas present.”
“We’re grateful that the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed our lawsuit to go forward,” Jonathan Saenz said in a prepared statement. “Mayor Annise Parker defied the law by providing spousal benefits to same-sex couples at a time when same-sex marriage was illegal in Texas, and we intend hold the city accountable for Parker’s lawless actions and her unauthorized expenditures of taxpayer money.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton applauded the decision to let Texas’ ruling stand, also arguing that the former Houston mayor acted while gay marriage was still illegal in Texas.
“We’re pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court let stand the Texas Supreme Court ruling that the right to a marriage license does not entitle same-sex couples to employee benefits at the expense of Texas taxpayers,” Paxton said in a news release.
Unsurprisingly, “Texas Values” include hatred, bigotry, homophobia, religious bigotry, self-righteousness, and the willingness to force your narrow, intolerant beliefs on those who don’t share them.
The takeaway from this decision is that the good, God-fearing Christian patriots of Houston have made themselves crystal clear: if you’re gay, stay away. Homophobia is alive and well- and it now has the force of law- in Houston.
Having lived in Houston for 10+ years (3722 days, not that I was counting), I’m not at all surprised by this turn of events. Though same-sex marriage is now the law of the land, and though equality is closer now than it’s ever been, this decision shows just how much hatred and bigotry still exist. Some “Christians” are so disgusted at the idea of love which flows outside the bounds they deem acceptable that they have no problem with legalized discrimination.