Texas

Texas balks at same-sex leave for employees

Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks on the House floor at the Capitol in Austin in this file photo.
Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks on the House floor at the Capitol in Austin in this file photo. Austin American-Statesman

Texas has sued the U.S. government over a change in rules tied to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act that requires recognition of same-sex couples married in other states.

The change in definition of spouse “attempts to override Texas law and force Texas employers, including state agencies, to recognize out-of-state same-sex unions as marriages,” state Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a lawsuit Wednesday. The rule takes effect March 27.

Texas will be forced “to violate either state law or a federal regulation,” according to the complaint, which seeks a court order to block enforcement of the rule change.

The suit comes as Texas appeals an Austin judge’s 2014 ruling that overturned the state’s gay-marriage ban. The Texas Supreme Court last month temporarily blocked a decision by a different Austin judge finding such marriages legal.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans is weighing gay-marriage bans in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

In January, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review a different appellate court’s decision barring same-sex marriage in four other states.

The new U.S. rule requires Texas employers to consider leave requests without “final guidance” of the two courts, according to the complaint in federal court in Wichita Falls. That places “an enormous burden” on employers, the state argues.

Nicole Navas, a Justice Department spokeswoman, didn’t respond to phone and email messages seeking comment on the lawsuit.

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