If you thought federal same-sex marriage rights gave all same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples – think again. In June the Texas Supreme Court decided to hear a case challenging the city of Houston's decision to grant same-sex spouses of city employees the same insurance benefits it allowed heterosexual couples. The Texas Supreme Court ruled that same sex couples' right to marry did not automatically mean the same-sex spouse of the government employee would have access to state-sponsored health insurance. Houston appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case.
This means that same-sex couples in Houston and throughout Texas do not automatically have a right to participate in their partners' insurance plans. They certainly can if their employers allow it, but those employers do not include Texas government entities.
If you are a same-sex couple divorcing in Texas, this ruling may have implications for your divorce. Perhaps one spouse had been counting on receiving health benefits for a period after the divorce; according to the Texas and U.S. Supreme Court, this would no longer be a possibility. Again, this is only for state and local government employees; private employers would be free to extend benefits to same-sex spouses of employees if they wished to do so.
If you have questions about what the ruling means for same sex couples divorcing in Texas, contact a family law attorney who can help you understand your position and your options.
Tags: Family law Texas