In the wake of the Supreme Court’s big decision on June 26th, most of what Texans have been hearing on the news is rightly about marriage. Even if some counties across the state continue to hold-out, the general trend is that they will eventually fall in line and comply with federal law. At present, 115 counties across the Lone Star State are now issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. They have come to this decision even in spite of grandiose promises from Attorney General Ken Paxton stating that counties *can* continue to refuse licenses to same-sex couples… as long as they are cool with risking a mountain of potential litigation.
While Paxton continues his quest for fantasy adjudication, other agencies across the state are moving forward. Effective today, Texas Public Employees can now receive benefits for their same-sex spouses. Here’s the story from Tom Benning of the Dallas Morning News…
AUSTIN — The state bureaucracy is moving forward to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision, even as statewide elected leaders, including Gov. Greg Abbott, have lambasted the landmark ruling.
Starting Wednesday — less than a week after the decision — the Employees Retirement System of Texas, the University of Texas System and the Texas A&M University System will extend benefits to spouses of gay and lesbian employees.
That means the list of employers providing same-sex partner benefits will include the state’s largest: the state itself.
The tangible developments highlight a divide between political rhetoric and practical reality on the emotional issue.
“Honestly, for the first time today I walked onto campus and I felt equal,” said Lisa Moore, an English professor at UT who had pushed for same-sex benefits. “I felt like I was being paid the same as a heterosexual employee.”
Employees in the ERS system (Employees Retirement System of Texas) have already been notified that spouses can receive benefits starting today if they were legally married before June 26th. If they are recently married, their partners can receive benefits within 30 days of the employee filing.
So if you didn’t catch the irony here, Governor Abbott and Attorney General Paxton are encouraging county officials to basically ignore the ruling, yet they are doing nothing to prevent large state agencies from compliance. What’s the word here… hypocrisy?
In any event, it’s good that some state leaders see the writing on the wall. For the hundreds of thousands of public employees across Texas, and especially the tens of thousands that are directly affected, today is yet again equality day.
So enjoy, and make sure to get your wives and husbands signed up!!