Texpatriate has learned that a District Court Judge in Houston has approved a request for a temporary restraining order enjoining enforcement of a recent policy to give full spousal benefits to the same-sex spouses of municipal employees. Just earlier today, we noted that the Harris County Republican Party had sued the City of Houston over the new policy. In a summary ruling before Judge Lisa Millard, enforcement of the measure (which has already gone into effect) is blocked until a hearing may be held on it on January 6th of next year. No word yet on what this means for those couples who have already received the benefits; the Mayor’s office has not released any statement as of press time.
The order, from Judge Lisa Millard of the 310th Family District Court, contends that there is a strong case to be made that plaintiffs (in this case, the HCRP) that they were suffer irrevocable harm if the policy is allowed to continue. Again, I don’t see how in the world these people have standing, as they do not work for the City of Houston. Another interest perspective is that Judge Millard is elected in a partisan election where she affiliates as a Republican, meaning that she is a member in the HCRP, the same organization now with a suit before her court. I should think this would present an argument to relocate the proceedings to either a judge in Harris County NOT affiliated with the HCRP or one from another County.
Perhaps most frustrating of all is that Judge Millard is up for election next year, with no opponent in the Democratic Party. As I noted last week, the Democrats were too lazy to contest many of these races including the 310th Court. The question remains to be seen of if Judge Millard might have moderated her homophobic biases if she had to be held accountable to voters this November. In the alternative, a Democratic candidate for this post would now have a lot to work with.
The GLBT Caucus recently issued a statement on the ruling, where it strongly criticized both the HCRP and the Judge for the assault on equality and fairness. Again, the Mayor’s office has not made any comments yet but I will let you know when they do.
H/t to Scott Braddock.