Houston Mayor Annise Parker announces same-sex spousal benefits for city employees

Houston Mayor Annise Parker announces same-sex spousal benefits for city employees
Houston Mayor Annise Parker

Annise Parker, openly lesbian three term mayor of Houston, announced today that city employees who are legally married in other states are now eligible for spousal benefits.

Via press release:

A 2001 voter-approved City Charter amendment has previously been relied upon as the basis for prohibiting the granting of same-sex benefits. However, the amendment specifically permits benefits to be provided to “legal spouses” of employees.

After a careful review of recent case law, the city legal department believes continued application of the charter amendment so as to deny same-sex spousal benefits would be unlawful because it treats employees differently on the basis of sexual orientation.

“Based on the right to equal protection under the law, it is unconstitutional for the city to continue to deny benefits to the same-sex spouses of our employees who are legally married,” said Mayor Parker. “This change is not only the legal thing to do, it is the right, just and fair thing to do.”

Similar benefits are currently available in other major Texas cities: Austin, El Paso, Fort Worth, Dallas and San Antonio.