Monday, July 20, 2015

Texas concedes case over benefits for same-sex couples

By Alexa Ura, The Texas Tribune

Almost a month after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton quietly conceded a case against the federal government over medical leave benefits for certain same-sex couples.

Paxton and the attorneys general of Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana and Nebraska filed a voluntary dismissal on Friday with the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Texas, where the states had sued the Obama administration over a rule change to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA. That change was intended to grant time off to legally married same-sex couples, even if they lived in a state like Texas that at the time did not recognize same-sex marriage.

The federal rule change applied to federal and state employees and private sector employees at workplaces with 50 or more employees. When the rule change was first made, only Texas couples who were legally married in other states would have been eligible for the benefits.

The federal court temporarily blocked that rule days before it was set to go into effect in March. But the issues in the case were resolved after the Supreme Court's June 26 ruling requiring all states to recognize same-sex marriage, according to the short voluntary dismissal filed by the attorneys general. It's unclear whether the rule change has been implemented.

Representatives with the AG's office did not immediately return a request for comment. The state had spent at least $26,881 on the case, according to legal costs obtained from the AG's office.

This is the second case related to same-sex marriage that Texas has dropped in light of the high court's ruling. This month, Paxton's office ended its defense of the state's now-defunct ban on same-sex marriage.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.

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