Statement on Harris County GOP spousal benefits lawsuit

The Harris County GOP today continued its malicious assault on equality for LGBT Texans by filing a lawsuit against the City of Houston in an attempt to deny legally married same-sex spouses of city employees from receiving medical and life insurance benefits.  Benefits had been granted beginning November 20th following legal guidance that the US Supreme Court Decision in United States v. Windsor rendered the continued denial of benefits unconstitutional.

"The Harris County GOP doesn't care how many hundreds of thousands of taxpayers dollars are wasted on this frivolous lawsuit." said Caucus President Noel Freeman.  "Heading into an election year, this isn't about marriage or taxpayer funding of benefits, it's about turning out social conservative voters."

GOP Chairman Jared Woodfill, the lead attorney on the case, is running for re-election against a popular, well-funded opponent.  The judge in the case, Republican Lisa Millard, is also running for re-election.

As of today, only three City of Houston employees have added same-sex spouses to their benefits, including Freeman.  The temporary restraining order signed by Judge Millard means their spouses will be unable to schedule doctor visits or have prescriptions filled.  If they have received care under the plan since November 20th they may be forced to pay 100 percent of the cost of care, despite employees having already paid out hundreds of dollars in spousal premiums.  

The first hearing in the case will take place on January 6, 2014.

"The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that simply being a taxpayer does not grant standing to sue elected officials." Freeman said.  "We believe this case will ultimately be dismissed for a lack of standing in accordance with established case law."

The Houston GLBT Political Caucus was founded in 1975 and is the South's oldest GLBT civil rights organization.

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