Since the story caught wildfire and continues to ricochet across the internet, the City of Houston has decided to revise the HERO Subpoena request. Here’s more from Mike Morris of the Houston Chronicle…
Mayor Annise Parker on Friday followed through on her pledge to narrow the scope of subpoenas sent to local pastors who led opposition to the city’s equal rights ordinance earlier this year.
Though the subpoena’s new wording removes any mention of “sermons” — a reference that created a firestorm among Christian conservative groups and politicians, including Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who accused Parker of trying “to silence the church” — the mayor acknowledged the new subpoenas do not explicitly preclude sermons from being produced.
“We don’t need to intrude on matters of faith to have equal rights in Houston, and it was never the intention of the city of Houston to intrude on any matters of faith or to get between a pastor and their parishioners,” Parker said. “We don’t want their sermons, we want the instructions on the petition process. That’s always what we wanted and, again, they knew that’s what we wanted because that’s the subject of the lawsuit.”
As readers know, the subpoenas became the quick subject of national news, rising up through the Conservative blogosphere, and landing major fodder for every media outlet from Fox News to Time magazine. And yes of course, Texas Leftist was also reeled in hook, line and sinker.
Further into the press conference, Mayor Parker reveals to ABC 13 reporter Miya Shay that she doesn’t regret the city’s actions…
Miya Shay: “Mayor do you think you would’ve bothered to change the language if not for all of the attention?”
Mayor Parker: No, we wouldn’t have. They knew what we wanted. […] There was nothing inappropriate with their request, but it was worded in a way that allowed misinterpretation. But no, we wouldn’t have weighed in if it hadn’t been brought to our attention.
Attorney Feldman also commented that the other side broke protocol in an effort to gain press attention.
Feldman: In the normal discovery process… if the other side has a problem your discovery request, before you file a motion to quash, you are supposed to confer about the issue. Had they done that in this case… they could have told us they had an issue with this request, and we would’ve agreed. But they decided to make it a media circus.
From watching the press conference, it seems pretty clear that the issue has caused a fair amount of stress for the Mayor’s office, due to the heinous amount of hate mail it has likely generated. Parker was very direct with her responses, and probably just wants the saga to be over. In the end though, it is much better that the City revise and clarify the subpoenas so as not to mislead people assuming sinister intentions.
Firestorm aside, the most important aspect of these cases is yet to come. The actual trial to determine if there will ever be a HERO referendum takes place in January. Just remember that as was seen this week, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance is still needed, and in fact laws like it need to be expanded to citizens across the state. Kudos to the Mayor and the City Attorney on fulfilling a promise they made earlier in the week. For the sake of all Houstonians, let’s try to move forward from this misstep.
Check out the press conference below…