Texas AG challenges federal rule that would allow family leave for same-sex spouses

Last month, Suzanne Bryant and Sarah Goodfriend became the first and only same-sex couple to get married in Texas. They say they were in a hurry because Goodfriend has cancer.

"The dignity, the respect, the commitment that goes with marriage and being able to call someone your husband or wife is huge," said Bryant the day they tied the knot.

Had they said "I do" across state lines though, a new rule under federal law that goes into effect next week, would have allowed Bryant to take time off to care for her spouse, even though same-sex marriage is not legal here in Texas.

"It should not be the federal government coming in to dictate to us on an issue of state law how we should do things. Particularly after the Supreme Court has said you aren't allowed to do that, says Texas' Values President, Jonathan Saenz.

And that's the reason Attorney General Ken Paxton gave for filing a twenty-three page lawsuit on Wednesday against the Federal Government and the Department of Labor.

Joe Deshotel is the Communications Director for the Travis County Democratic Party. He calls the lawsuit "frivolous" and he adds, "It's the antithesis of family values. We don't know why anyone would want to deny the ability for a loved one to care for their sick spouse."

In a statement announcing the lawsuit, General Paxton contends he is defending Texas' right to govern itself, and he says, "Attempts by the Obama administration to disregard the will of our citizens through the use of new federal rules is unconstitutional and an affront to the foundations of federalism."

But Deshotel believes it's political grandstanding.

"This is a civil rights issue that one group on the far end of the spectrum is using the law to hide behind what they are trying to do which is blatant discrimination," he said.

Jonathan Saenz though says regardless the law maintains here in Texas, marriage is still between a man and a woman, that is how both the legislature and Texans voted and only through a process will that be changed.

"When almost two million people went to the ballot and voted for our marriage laws, they should expect that those laws are going to be defended and that's what we are dealing with here," he explained.

In February, a judge ruled the same-sex marriage ban in Texas was unconstitutional. However, General Paxton challenged it. The Texas State Supreme Court has sided with him, for the time being at least, they ruled a stay on that ban, until at least the U.S. Supreme Court makes their decision. That is expected to happen some time in early summer.