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Texas AG: Gay couples' healthcare plans are illegal

April 30, 2013 at 4:55 PM

AUSTIN, Texas, April 30 (UPI) -- Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said healthcare benefits offered to gay couples by municipalities are illegal because Texas doesn't recognize gay marriage.

Several local governments, including the city of Austin, Travis County and multiple school districts in the state, offer family healthcare plans covering employees' domestic partners -- including same-sex couples, the Austin American-Statesman reported Monday.

Abbott's non-binding legal opinion said the 2005 Texas voter-approved constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman makes the healthcare plans illegal.

"By creating domestic partnerships and offering health benefits based on them, the political subdivisions have created and recognized something not established by Texas law," the opinion said.

The municipalities are not bound to stop offering healthcare to gay couples -- only a court order concurring with Abbott's opinion could do that -- but continuing to do so invites the possibility of lawsuits by anti-gay groups.

Austin City Attorney Karen Kennard said she disagreed with Abbott's opinion -- and added the city has no plans to change its employee healthcare policy.

"With all due respect to the attorney general, we believe his opinion on this question is not correct," Kennard told council members in a memo.

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