Texas Sues to Stop Gays From Taking Family Leave

03/23/2015 01:22 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

It's been nearly two months since marriage was supposed to start in Alabama, and the state still doesn't have its act together. Texas just filed a lawsuit to prevent gays and lesbians from taking family medical leave. And it's going to take at least five different bills to overturn Michigan's marriage ban.

Alabama's still a mess of conflicting rulings. Right now, it looks like the only way that judges could comply with every order they've received is if nobody ever gets married ever again. First a federal court said judges have to issue licenses, then the State Supreme Court said they don't have to. And then last week, Judge Callie Granade issued a new ruling that said, in essence, "yes you do."

This leaves judges stuck in the same tug of war as before: state courts say one thing, federal courts say another. It's like a big legal game of chicken, and neither side is willing to budge. The state court won't back down, because they believe they're right. And the federal court won't back down, because they actually ARE right.

Meanwhile, anti-gay politicians have continued their desperate rhetoric. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has sued the Obama administration, claiming that the state should be allowed to withhold family and medical leave from married gays and lesbians. The timing is no accident: this week, federal rules on family and medical leave are changing, and will require Texas to provide leave to couples who are legally married. Paxton objects the idea that gays and lesbians will be allowed to take time off to care for each other, and has instructed state officials to defy the new federal regulation.

Meanwhile, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley filed an amicus brief with the US Supreme Court last week, claiming that marriage equality harms children. And Idaho Republicans asked Congress to impeach all of the judges who ruled that marriage bans are unconstitutional. That is a lot of judges, what they're really asking for is a massive gutting of federal courts.

But this limited backlash aside, most lawmakers are still moving in the direction of supporting greater equality. Michigan Democrats have proposed five bill that would repeal various marriage bans. Puerto Rico, which previously defended its marriage ban, just reversed course and will now allow it to be overturned. And Congress is considering reforms that would allow LGBT couples to access Social Security benefits that they previously couldn't.

And public support is growing too. Last week the Presbyterian Church voted to recognize gay and lesbian couples as married. And a new survey in Wisconsin shows that 70 percent of residents say that overturning the state's marriage ban has had no effect on their lives. Of the people who said it did have an effect, about half said it was positive.