University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Pidgeon v. Parker PB-TX-0006
Docket / Court 4:13-CV-03768 ( S.D. Tex. )
Additional Docket(s) 2013−75301  [ 13-75301 ]
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Same-Sex Marriage
Case Summary
On December 17, 2013, plaintiffs, two Houston residents and taxpayers, filed a lawsuit in the Harris County, Texas family law court because the City's employee benefits program had become available to spouses of same-sex marriages. The complaint alleged violations of the Texas Family Code; the ... read more >
On December 17, 2013, plaintiffs, two Houston residents and taxpayers, filed a lawsuit in the Harris County, Texas family law court because the City's employee benefits program had become available to spouses of same-sex marriages. The complaint alleged violations of the Texas Family Code; the Houston City Charter; and the Texas Constitution against the City of Houston. The plaintiffs sought temporary and permanent injunctions to prevent the City from making the City's employee benefits program available to same sex spouses of City of Houston employees. The state court judge issued a temporary order in the plaintiffs' favor, which remains in effect.

On December 27, 2013, the City removed the case to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas Houston Division, where it was assigned to Judge Lee H. Rosenthal. The City argued that the case asserted a federal claim, because the complaint alleged that the City had violated a section of the Houston City Charter that refers to federal law. The defendants also asserted that the decision to begin offering benefits to same-sex spouses of employees was required by the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Windsor, 570 U.S. 744 (2013). The plaintiffs disagreed; they argued that the case was a state law matter and asked the District Court to send the case back to state court.

On August 28, 2014, Judge Rosenthal for the District Court found that the it lacked removal jurisdiction because the plaintiffs' complaint did not present a federal question, and remanded the case to the 310th Judicial District of Harris County, Texas.

On November 5, 2014, Judge Lisa Millard of the 310th Judicial District of Harris County issued a temporary injunction prohibiting the City from "furnishing benefits to persons who were married in other jurisdictions to City employees of the same sex." The City filed a notice of interlocutory appeal on November 21, 2014.

While the City's appeal from the injunction was pending, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Obergefell that a state may not "exclude same-sex couples from civil marriage on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples." Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584, 2605 (2015). On July 28, 2015, Texas's Fourteenth Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's injunction and remanded for proceedings consistent with Obergefell and DeLeon v. Abbott (the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas finding that article I § 32 of the Texas Constitution and Texas Family Code § 6.204 unconstitutional, and enjoined the State of Texas from enforcing them; Fifth Circuit Court affirming the trial court's determination in light of Obergefell. DeLeon, 791 F.3d 619, 624–25 (5th Cir. 2015)). Parker v. Pidgeon, 477 S.W.3d 353 (Tex. App. 2015).

The plaintiffs sought discretionary review from the Supreme Court of Texas. Though it initially denied review on September 2, 2016, 549 S.W.3d 130 (Mem), the Supreme Court of Texas later withdrew that order on rehearing and granted review, hearing arguments in March 2017.

In 2016, the case name changed to Pidgeon v. Turner.

On June 30, 3017, the Supreme Court of Texas found that the court of appeals' opinion and judgment imposed, or could be read to impose, greater restrictions on remand than Obergefell required, and reversed the ruling of the court of appeals. Pidgeon v. Turner, 538 S.W.3d 73 (Tex. 2017). According to the court, Obergefell “did not address and resolve” the “specific issue” of state spousal benefits, and "did not hold that states must provide the same publicly funded benefits to all married persons." Therefore, the Supreme Court of Texas found that the state appeals court erred in ordering the trial court to resolve the case “consistent with Obergefell and De Leon.” The court instructed the trial court to settle the issue itself, reversing the court of appeals' judgment and vacating the trial court's orders.

On September 15, 2017, the plaintiffs filed a petition for writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court. It denied review on December 4, 2017. The Supreme Court of Texas's mandate reversing the judgment of the court of appeals, vacating the trial court's injunction, and remanding the case to the trial court for further proceedings issued on February 28, 2018.

The defendants filed a notification of removal to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas on March 5, 2018. On April 10, 2018, the court (Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt) granted the plaintiffs' motion to remand to the 310th District Court of Harris County, Texas, finding that the federal district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the plaintiffs' pleadings presented no issues of federal law or constitutional claims. The plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment on July 2, 2018. As of August 11, 2018, a trial on the merits is set for January 7, 2019.

Jamie Haberichter - 09/11/2014
Sarah McDonald - 08/12/2018


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-area
Pay / Benefits
Discrimination-basis
Sexual orientatation
General
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Marriage
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) City of Houston
Plaintiff Description Houston residents and taxpayers opposed to making City's employment benefits program available to same sex spouses of employees.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Filing Year 2013
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
4:13−cv−0376 (S.D. Tex.)
PB-TX-0006-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/28/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
2013-75301 (State Trial Court)
PB-TX-0006-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/02/2017
General Documents
Plaintiffs' Original Petition . . . [ECF# 1]
PB-TX-0006-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/17/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order on TRO [ECF# 1]
PB-TX-0006-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/27/2013
Removal [ECF# 1]
PB-TX-0006-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/27/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [ECF# 35] (46 F.Supp.3d 692) (S.D. Tex.)
PB-TX-0006-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/28/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Temporary Injunction
PB-TX-0006-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/05/2014
Per Curiam Opinion (477 S.W.3d 353)
PB-TX-0006-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/28/2015
Opinion
PB-TX-0006-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/01/2017
Judges Rosenthal, Lee Hyman (S.D. Tex.)
PB-TX-0006-0004 | PB-TX-0006-0005 | PB-TX-0006-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Olson, Leif A. (Texas)
PB-TX-0006-9000
Saenz, Jonathan M. (Texas)
PB-TX-0006-0001
Talton, Robert (Texas)
PB-TX-0006-0001
Woodfill, Jared R (Texas)
PB-TX-0006-0001 | PB-TX-0006-9000 | PB-TX-0006-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Feldman, David M. (Texas)
PB-TX-0006-0003 | PB-TX-0006-9000
Ramsey, Judith L. (Texas)
PB-TX-0006-9001
Other Lawyers Mitchell, Jonathan F. (Texas)
PB-TX-0006-9000
Upton, Kenneth D. (Texas)
PB-TX-0006-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -