Houston Mayor Moves Same-Sex Lawsuit Out Of Republican Court

Soon after the openly lesbian Texas city mayor Annise Parker announced that same-sex spouses of city employees would receive health and life insurance benefits, the Harris County GOP sued Parker and got Republican Judge Lisa Millard to stop the benefits from going into effect.

ParkerBut City Attorney David Feldman has just gotten the case moved out of Millard's district court and into a federal court.

Lone Star Q has more:

The notice of removal also brings light of how Republican Judge Lisa Millard failed to notify Mayor Annise Parker and the city of Houston before holding a hearing the exact same day Republicans filed the lawsuit, and then immediately signing a temporary restraining order halting the new same-sex benefits policy enacted by Parker in November…

The notice of removal has now automatically moved the lawsuit case into federal court.

Republicans are going to have to ask a federal judge to remand their case in order to get it back to state court.

The article goes on to say that the Harris County GOP lawsuit and the lawsuit filed by the Lambda Legal on behalf of three same-sex Houston couples could be consolidated into one lawsuit in federal court and finally put the constitutionality of Texas' same-sex marriage ban on trial.

Earlier this year, two same-sex Texas couples also filed a lawsuit calling Texas' 2005 amendment unconstitutional.


  1. says

    Guess we should say thanks to Millard, the GOP, & Woodfill. Their attack on benefits will now end up as the stimulus for lawsuits that overturn Texas LGBT marriage bans. Their underhandedness helped get it to a federal court a little quicker.

    Parker just let them know she’s not bush (no pun intended) league.

  2. MiddleoftheRoader says

    Unfortunately, the GOP lawsuit AGAINST the Mayor and other City officials is NOT removable to the federal district court. That means that when the GOP asks the federal judge to “remand” the case back to the state court, s/he will probably have to do that. Right now, until the federal judge acts, the state judge cannot do anything further in the case; but when the federal judge sends it back to the state court, the state judge can continue to act. Here’s the reasoning:

    The only claims that can be filed in federal court are claims where the federal court has “jurisdiction” — and those are claims that “arise” under federal laws or the US Constitution (or claims involving “diversity of citizenship” — not applicable here). Some cases that “arise” under federal laws can be brought in either state court OR federal court — and if they are brought in state court, then the defendant can “remove” them to federal court (but ONLY IF they are the types of claims that could have been brought in federal court to begin with). Most important here, all of the GOP claims against the Mayor, etc. “arise” under city and state law, and none of the GOP claims are based on federal law — which means that the federal court does not have jurisdiction over the GOP lawsuit. And because there is no federal court jurisdiction over the GOP claims, then they must remain in state court.

    Some people say that there is a federal claim in cases like this because the city and state laws that prohibits benefits for same-sex couples are in violation of the US Constitution. But all that means is that the DEFENSE to the GOP claim is based on federal law (the US Constitution). And federal courts are not allowed to hear cases where the only federal law issue is raised by the defendant (the Mayor), and where there is no federal law claim raised by the party who filed the case (the GOP).

    So, unfortunately, this is going back to state court.

    The case filed in federal court by Lambda Legal, on the other hand, CAN remain in federal court because Lambda Legal has brought a claim that “arises” under federal law — Lambda Legal is saying that the Texas laws are in violation of the US Constitution.

  3. manbot says

    “Don’t F_ _ _ with me fellas! I’m a little smitten with this “broad’s” bravado. Regardless of where this ends, I’m a big fan of throwing everything at the wall and seeing if anything sticks. She’s basically made a hit on a fastball pitch. Regardless of whether it lands in-bounds, she’s the one who has them by the balls right now.

  4. NailHim says

    Finally!!! Our mayor, who among other things is lesbian, has FINALLY taken a stand. And is attempting to STOP the backward looking republithugs from using the GLBTQQIAA community for more political points. The republithuigs are a bunch of greasy,slimy,shady,sneaky,sinister, lurid,underhanded,desperate,unbalanced,vile,nasty,unhinged wacko nut cases. They ALL need to be institutionalized en masse and given long lasting mega doses of serious psychiatric drugs to “control” their wicked desires to harm the GLBTQQIAA community. Just so they know what it is like.AKA: give ’em a dose of their own medicine. They’re totally on the WRONG side of history. And are going down in flames. (Pun intended).

  5. says

    Don’t believe they’ll remand to state. More than likely this case will be amended, then consolidated with the Lambda Legal cases at Federal Court. Regardless of state statues on marriage the federal recognition is all that is needed for violation of federal laws on equal pay (& benefits) for equal work.

    Take a deep breath.

  6. Gregory In Seattle says

    So basically, the Mayor issued a change in policy, in line with her powers as the city’s chief executive. The Republican Party lined up a judge favorable to their way of thinking, then filed their complaint at the exact moment when the judge was next on the rota. The judge, forewarned, was ready to have a hearing the moment the notice hit her inbox, and never bothered to inform the city of this fact.

    Notice of removal was created for EXACTLY this kind of situation, when local or state politics are so toxic that fairness is impossible.

  7. J Ascher says

    I’m no lawyer, but it seems strange should the Federal court remand the case to the State court given the state judge’s action: not notifying the city of the hearing to which it is a party. That’s a clear case of violating due process.

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