US: Texas Supreme Court questions right of benefits for gay spouses

Gay spouses may not be entitled to government-subsidized workplace benefits, the Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday in a unanimous decision that was quickly condemned by gay-rights groups. 

The court overturned a lower court's decision that favored same-sex marriage benefits, ordering the issue back to trial. Social conservatives hope the case will help them chip away at the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark ruling legalizing gay marriage

Gay rights groups denounced the ruling as an "absurd distortion" of established law regarding marriage equality.

"Marriage is marriage and equal is equal. We will take steps to protect these families," said Kenneth Upton Jr., Dallas-based attorney for Lambda Legal. 

Friday's decision was a major reversal for the all-Republican Texas high court, which previously refused to even consider the benefits case after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution grants gay couples who want to marry "equal dignity in the eyes of the law." 

The Texas court only agreed to hear it after coming under intense pressure from Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton, as well as dozens of other conservative elected officials, church leaders and grassroots activists. They filed a flurry of briefs saying the case may help Texas limit the scope of the Supreme Court ruling - especially in how it's applied to states. The decision didn't block same-sex spousal benefits but said the U.S. Supreme Court decision did not decide the issue. The U.S. Supreme Court "did not hold that states must provide the same publicly funded benefits to all married persons," the Texas Supreme Court's wrote in its opinion.  Read more via CBS