Houston mayor, Democrat Annise Parker, ordered the City of Houston to issue subpoenas to a number of area pastors, ordering them to surrender numerous documents, including sermon notes and transcripts, private emails, and financial documents, in particular anything relating to their views on homosexuality, the mayor, and the recently-enacted “men can use women’s bathrooms” city ordinance.
Yes. You read that right.
Houston – Philadelphia in Texas
Houston has recently been a hotbed of some of the nation’s most rampant systemic electoral fraud machines, that in part led to the formation of TrueTheVote.org, an influential nonpartisan group whose agenda is fairness in elections. In an largely otherwise conservative state (let’s ignore Austin for the moment), Houston stands as a forward operating base of the Democrat Party, where citizens are ruled by Democrats, for Democrats, and where elections are conducted and counted by Democrats, and for Democrats.
The HERO Act
In June 2104, the City Council passed what they called HERO: Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Sounds noble – nay, one might even say heroic, yes? If anything. Democrats excel at packaging, at presentation, at labels that make them look like the champions of the WorkingMan™, of EveryMan™, of OppressedMan™.
They do talk a good show. Although one’s sexual orientation should not be relevant and I would not normally care, it’s worth noting here that 3-term Mayor Parker is not only openly homosexual, but is aligned with and backed by militant homosexual political advocacy groups. Naturally, she ran this last campaign pledging not to push any such agenda.
This law was sold as addressing discrimination in hiring, city contracting, and private employment, ensuring inclusivity and opportunity for all residents. What it did was criminalize any non-favorable treatment of homosexuals and transvestites. Not just in hiring in making all manner of accommodations. While there were ostensibly exemptions for religious organizations, they were only applied to religious organizations that do not discriminate.
In other words, as a religious organization, you are exempt from this ordinance, but only if you adhere to the text and spirit of this ordinance. And if you oppose homosexual marriage, or homosexual and transvestite church membership, you’re not exempt.
The law handed broad discretionary powers to the City Attorney and the Inspector General to issue subpoenas to compel cooperation in investigations of any complaints. And given the loud, confrontational, and litigious nature of militant homosexual groups, it’s a certainty that complaints would be made.
The Sexual Predator Protection Clause that almost was
Up intil May 14, this ordinance as proposed included Section 17-51(b), the “Open Bathrooms Component”, which in all Houston private businesses and public facilities makes all female bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms available to anyone dressed in female attire.
Yes. You read that right too.
This provision was removed before the law was passed, in the face of intense public outrage.
But know this, and never forget it: the Democrats badly wanted that provision. This is what they will do when you are not looking, or when you allow them too much power. When the provision was pulled, the homosexual activist groups went nuts, and their anger was only (partially) assuaged by Mayor Parker’s assurances that federal “protections” would overcome any local denials of their agenda.
Citizens rejected this ordinance
The law faced loud opposition while it was being considered, even after the “predator protection” portion was removed. The Council rammed it through anyway. A petition to have the law rescinded by referendum (citizen vote) gained 50,000 signatures in less than a month, when only 17,269 were required. City Attorney David Feldman rejected the petition as only having 15.249 valid signatures.
At that point a lawsuit was filed by Alliance Defending Freedom, not on the basis of the text of the law – as hideous an assault as it is on religious freedom, freedom of speech, and freedom of association aspects of the First Amendment – but on the particulars of the City’s rejection of the petition, in which the City Attorney rejected scores of pages claiming notary and signature mistakes.
The Empire Strikes Back
So in the face of that lawsuit — keeping in mind that the lawsuit alleges that the city improperly rejected large numbers of signatures — the City of Houston has responded with this subpoena against a number of area pastors who have expressed public opposition to the ordinance. Here is the subpoena.
Be aware that defendants in a lawsuit are allowed to compel witnesses to testify, to compel the disclosure of many things that normally would be considered private, in order to provide evidence for their own innocence. This is called discovery, and in general the trial parties are given some latitude in what they can have delivered to them.
Apparently the city’s defense is going to be that the City Attorney rejected 35,000 signatures because area pastors might have used their positions or pulpits to express opposition to the law.
Opponents (and most air-breathing organisms) recognize this as a witch hunt, an attempt to silence political opposition to a radical agenda that the public does not want.
Not even in deep-blue Houston.