Bucking its state’s constitution, Houston announced it would offer health care and life insurance to same-sex spouses of city employees, as long as those couples were legally married. The marriages would have to be from states other than Texas, since the law in the Lone Star State does not allow those same-sex couples to be recognized as legitimately wed.
There could be trouble ahead for the city’s plan, however. The Texas Attorney General said in April 2013 that school districts or local governments offering such benefits to same-sex partners were violating the state’s constitution. Five months later, the Texas National Guard refused to obey an order from the Pentagon to process military benefits application for gay and lesbian couples. The Texas Guard cited the state law denying recognition to same-sex married couples.
Houston officials maintained that they were following the lead of federal entities such as the Internal Revenue Service, which announced in August that all legally married couples would be recognized as married for the purposes of their tax returns, regardless of whether they were gay or straight. This was after the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, paving the way for same-sex marriages to be recognized at the federal level if it was legal in the state in which it was performed.
Same-sex couples are exercising new legal rights in marriage, but that means same-sex partners also face the same legal issues that traditionally married couples deal with. Same-sex separation, child custody and other domestic issues may all need to be addressed in court at some point. Even in states without domestic partnership agreements, same-sex parents of small children may benefit from the advice and counsel of an attorney in working out visitation and support arrangements after a breakup.
Source: Houston Chronicle , “Houston to offer benefits to same-sex couples”, Juan A. Lozano, November 20, 2013