Voters weren’t so thrilled, and responding by petitioning to repeal the ordinance or at least, put it up for a vote. They got over 50,000 signatures, more than three times the required number. The city secretary, (who is entrusted by law to examine and certify petitions) certified them as sufficient.
The city attorneys issued subpoenas to five pastors,
But the mayor and city attorney defied the law, claimed less than the required number of signatures was valid - and threw out the petition. In response, several petitioners organized a lawsuit.
That didn’t sit too well.
demanding they turn over any speeches, writings, or sermons on gender identity, homosexuality, or mentioning the mayor, Annise Parker, who identifies as a lesbian.
The pastors are not party to the lawsuit. Asking them to turn over their constitutionally protected sermons and other communications simply so the city can see if the pastors have ever opposed or criticized the city, violates the First Amendment.
In response to the outrage, the mayor tweeted that if pastors had talked about these political issues, they are “fair game”:
One of the pastors, Steve Riggle, senior pastor of Grace Community Church, said; “This is an attempt to chill pastors from speaking to the cultural issues of the day. The Mayor would like to silence our voice. She’s a bully.”
Another of the five, Rev. David Welch, stated, “We’re not afraid of this bully. We’re not intimidated at all. We’re not going to yield our First Amendment Rights. This is absolutely a complete abuse of authority.”
“City council members are supposed to be public servants, not ‘Big Brother’ overlords who will tolerate no dissent or challenge,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley.
Our attorneys have filed a motion to stop this attempt by the city of Houston.
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