On Tuesday, the Harris County Republican Party decided to give an early Christmas gift to a bunch of attorneys and drop a giant lump of coal into the stockings of legally married same-sex couples by suing the city to prevent the enacting of a policy that would extend health and live insurance benefits to the spouses of people legally married in other states to city employees. It appears this New Year's Even, the Harris County GOP wants to party like it's 1959.
Chairman Jared Woodfill claims this is nothing more than an overreach by the Mayor, who he claims "spit on the U.S. Constitution." The suit triggered a restraining order to block the policy until a hearing on January 6. Woodfill claims the benefits violate the city charter and the state's Defense of Marriage Act as well as the Texas Constitution.
City attorneys believe the suit will be thrown out, but it underscores a deep divide that still exists even in a city with an openly gay Mayor.
This is a classic example of someone (or some group) not knowing when to let go of a particular issue and simply move on. A majority of Americans support same-sex marriage and the Supreme Court has upheld multiple challenges to state laws allowing same-sex couple to tie the knot. It's only a matter of time before states like Texas will have to come to the same conclusion most other states have: if homosexual couples want to marry, they should have every right to do so, and preventing them from obtaining the benefits heterosexual couples have is a violation of the Constitution Woodfill is so hungry to defend.
The other question that keeps running through my head is, "Why do you care?" What difference does it make to Woodfill or any member of the local GOP if people they clearly don't associate with have an opportunity to share in the same rights as they do? Same-sex partner benefits are provided by most American corporations already. For a group that is hell bent on protecting individual rights, it sure seems this flies directly in the face of that ideal. On their own website, the local Republican Party claims to believe in the diversity of Houston.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
We believe the diversity of the people of Harris County is an immense source of strength. Support for our community comes from citizens of all faiths who work hard, who believe that the free enterprise system helps everyone enjoy a better life, and who cherish individual liberty. Therefore, as Republicans, we can tell our story to and receive support from anyone who lives here.
Anyone? Well, not anyone. In fact, in the very next paragraph of the local GOP party platform, it outlines who they believe is worthy of non-discrimination and it does not include gays and lesbians.
We favor a policy of non-discrimination in which no special treatment in any operation of local government is given to anyone based on race, sex, ethnicity, or national origin, and we oppose the creation of special classes among any group of citizens.
It's not shocking. The state and national parties follow a similarly flawed logic when it comes to individual rights versus gay rights. Still, to take it to the point of suing the week before Christmas just to stop them from collecting the same benefits as the rest of us seems pretty Grinch-y...even for them.