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Federal lawsuit on behalf of three City of Houston employees stripped of spousal health coverage benefits for their same-sex spouses.


Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas against Houston Mayor Annise Parker and the City of Houston seeking to preserve spousal benefits, including health insurance coverage, for the same-sex spouses of city employees. The lawsuit was filed on behalf three City of Houston employees legally married to same-sex spouses in other jurisdictions and follows notification these employees received that the City, one month after extending the coverage to their spouses, was being forced to withdraw these benefits and cancel the coverage. On November 20, 2013, Mayor Parker announced that all lawfully-married City employees, including those who married same-sex partners in jurisdictions where such marriages are legal, would be eligible to enroll for spousal benefits, including health insurance coverage, under the City’s employee compensation plan. The three plaintiffs named in Lambda Legal’s lawsuit enrolled their spouses as soon as they received notification of the policy change. Shortly thereafter, however, two Houston taxpayers sued the Mayor and the City in Family Law Court claiming the benefits were illegal and, without giving the Mayor or the City notice, secured a temporary restraining order (TRO) blocking extension of the benefits. The City is resisting the taxpayer action in separate proceedings.