Religious freedom is evidently on the march in Houston, Texas, as city officials subpoena pastors for copies of their sermons, in addition to other communications made to their respective congregations. The ridiculous unconstitutional intrusion is related to a heavily-disputed Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) that was signed into law by Houston’s first openly gay mayor, Annise Parker.
One of the most disputed aspects of the ordinance was a provision related to transgendered individuals using public restrooms. In essence, the ordinance would allow any man dressed as a woman to use a woman’s restroom.
After the ordinance passed in May, a coalition of citizens filed a petition to force a referendum on HERO, but Mayor Annise Parker and City Attorney David Feldman announced that the petition was invalid on August 4.
With respect to the referendum petition filed to repeal the ‘HERO’ ordinance, there are simply too many documents with irregularities and problems to overlook,” Feldman said. “The petition is simply invalid. There is no other conclusion.
The coalition of activists, including local pastors, needed 17,269 signatures. As reported at WND, the coalition “had submitted more than 55,000 signatures in the referendum drive.” In response to Feldman’s claim that their petition was invalid, the group filed an appeal to the Texas Supreme Court.
After the subpoena demanding access to sermons and church communications was served, the group, Alliance Defending Freedom filed a motion to quash the city’s demands for church sermons, noting that the “pastors are not party to the lawsuit, and the city’s strategy doesn’t meet the requirements of state law that demands such efforts ‘be reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, not be overly broad, seek only information that is not privileged and relevant to the subject matter of the litigation, and not cause undue burden or harassment.'”
ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley said, “[C]ity officials are upset over a voter lawsuit filed after the city council rejected valid petitions to repeal a law that allows members of the opposite sex into each other’s restrooms.”
… they have embarked upon a witch hunt, and we are asking the court to put a stop to it.
It is ironic that city officials would engage in religious discrimination while trying to justify their Equal Rights Ordinance, which prohibits religious discrimination.