A Wichita Falls federal district judge on Thursday granted Attorney General Ken Paxton’s request to temporarily stop the federal government from revising the Family and Medical Leave Act to include federal employees in same-sex unions.
Paxton and attorneys general from Arkansas, Louisiana and Nebraska who sued the federal government “have demonstrated that irreparable injury would occur” if the change went into effect Friday, as scheduled, Judge Reed O’Connor said in his order.
O’Connor, a President George W. Bush appointee, said the new rule would require Texas to recognize out-of-state same-sex unions in direct violation of state’s Family Code, which expressly forbids Texas agencies from giving any legal protection to same-sex couples.
“The Obama Administration’s attempt to force employers to recognize same-sex marriages would have put state agencies in the position of either violating Texas law or federal regulations,” Paxton said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “We are pleased that the Department of Labor’s effort to override our laws via federal rulemaking has been halted, and we will continue to defend our sovereignty in this case.”
Starting Friday, the labor agency had planned to change the FMLA definition of “spouse” to include gay federal employees who were legally married in states where those unions are legal – even if they move to a state that does not allow or recognize same-sex unions. The federal government may request a hearing on the injunction pending a final ruling on the merits of Paxton’s lawsuit.
See here for the background. I’m sorry, but I have a hard time seeing what harm Texas or any other state would suffer under this. These benefits only go to federal employees. Private companies are free to recognize and offer benefits to same sex couples despite Texas’ absurd prohibition against same-sex marriage, and last I checked nothing bad had happened. And seriously, this is all going to be moot soon enough. It’s just more fearmongering from the people who have lost this fight.