Challenge to Houston Same-Sex Benefits Case Removed to Federal Court, and Houston Legal Memo Supporting Its Decision

December 30th, 2013

The City of Houston has removed a suit filed by the Harris County GOP from state court to the Southern District of Texas. Texpatriate has the report. More from the Chronicle. I previously blogged about this suit here, here, here, and here.

The notice of removal in Pidgeon v. Parker is here. The motion states that the family court “conducted an ex parte hearing” at 5:00 p.m. even though the Mayor was never properly served. A TRO was issued at 5:13 p.m. The removal notice raises an important federal question about “equal protection and due process rights (including fundamental liberty interests) of legally married same-sex couples.”

The pleading includes at Exhibit F the legal opinion offered to the Mayor explaining why same-sex benefits would be offered. I had not seen this memo. It’s 3 pages long (begins at p. 34 of the pdf). There isn’t much reasoning there. The memo omits any treatment of the limiting language in Windsor, or of the various opinions in that case. It probably comes out right on the outcome of what a court would do, but it’s awfully thin.   Here is the entire memo.