From main line media reporting, it almost seems like some “shocking development” that the same forces which defeated the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance would now turn their ire upon the city of Dallas. But to Texas Leftist or anyone that has closely followed the U.S. Pastor Council(aka the Houston Area Pastor Council or the Texas Pastor Council), this move was just a matter of time. Hold on to your seats North Texas, and get ready for some heinous lies to come your way.
And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs:
That onslaught of lawsuits mentioned earlier this week?? Well here it comes, right on schedule.
Equality opponents really are throwing yet another lawsuit into the mix, even after they achieved their long-fought goal of getting the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance placed on the November ballot. As Katherine Driessen of the Houston Chronicle reports, this time their anger stems from the chosen ballot language…
Equal rights ordinance opponents on Friday sued Mayor Annise Parker for the second time this week, challenging the ballot language that will go to voters in November.
At issue is whether the ballot item should ask voters if they favor repealing the law or not, or if they support implementing the law or not. City Council approved sending the equal rights ordinance to voters on Wednesday, under order from the Texas Supreme Court to either repeal the law or affirm it and place it on the November ballot.
Then, City Council tackled the ballot language. Attorney Andy Taylor, who represents the opponents, told City Council he believed City Charter does not allow for a suspended ordinance — the law has been tabled, under court order — to be voted on by repeal.
The current ballot language asks “shall the city of Houston repeal the Equal Rights Ordinance” — so a supporter of the law would vote against it, and an opponent would vote in favor. In a press release, Taylor said the “Mayor decided to play games with the language in an effort to confuse voters on the effect of a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ vote.”
Taylor has submitted an emergency mandamus relief request to the Texas Supreme Court. In order to meet a late August deadline for ballot items, City Council has only one meeting left to re-vote on the language if ordered to do so.
Mayor Annise Parker did not respond to a request for comment but on the Houston Matters radio show Friday afternoon she said the lawsuit lacked merit. The language, she noted, was taken from a repeal referendum petition opponents submitted last summer.
At issue is careful semantics that are embedded into the Houston City Charter. On Wednesday, City Council approved the following language, based on the repeal petition’s original request…
“Shall the City of Houston repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, Ord. No. 2014-530, which prohibits discrimination in city employment and city services, city contracts, public accommodations, private employment, and housing based on an individual’s sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, or pregnancy?”
But plaintiffs filed the latest lawsuit because they contend the chosen ballot language does not satisfy rules set by Charter Article VII-b., Section 3. Here is an excerpt of that…
…Immediately upon the filing of such petition the City Secretary shall do all things required by section 2(b) of this Article. Thereupon the Council shall immediately reconsider such ordinance or resolution and, if it does not entirely repeal the same, shall submit it to popular vote at the next city general election, or the Council may, in its discretion, call a special election for that purpose; and such ordinance or resolution shall not take effect unless a majority of the qualified voters voting thereon at such election shall vote in favor thereof.
In agreement with the Charter, the ordinance has been submitted immediately for reconsideration, and for popular vote. But while the Charter does say that a vote must be in favor, it does not specify clearly if all votes must be in favor of the ordinance, or in favor of repeal.
On this point, there was vigorous disagreement even among the Council table. C.O. Bradford, who supports the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, sided with the plaintiffs on the ballot language, warning that it left City officials open for such a lawsuit as filed today.
So there you have the legal wrangling, but here’s the real reason that HERO opponents (A.K.A. the Houston Area Pastor Council/ Texas Pastor Council/ US Pastor Council) want ballot language for a vote in favor of the ordinance. The entirety of their campaign has already been constructed around their side voting against the ordinance. Remember the original slogan they employed was “NO Unequal Rights”
According to sources which cannot yet be revealed by Texas Leftist, the Pastor Council has stockpiled mailers, posters, other campaign materials and possibly even media spots that they are ready to unleash against HERO. It’s likely to be an onslaught never before seen at for a local election. So taking away the ability to tell their side to “Vote NO!” foils much of those plans, and forces them to reverse course and spend money on a whole new campaign.
The “Vote NO!” arena has already been tested, and victorious. Last fall, the US Pastor Council produced a battle to defeat the Non-Discrimination Ordinance in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and won that battle with 53 percent of the vote. Repeal 119was one of the “test markets” for persecution of local non-discrimination ordinances across the United States. Make no mistake… this is a national fight against equal rights, with Houston currently taking center stage.
Lest we forget, the persecution of equality is much more than a religious conviction for the US Pastor Council. It also puts them on the fast track to fame and fortune across the United States. Like any group that has been suddenly cast into the spotlight, they will do and say whatever they can to gain more power, money and influence. For those that support equality, this is a necessary factor to keep in mind.
Whatever the final ballot language, this November’s election just got a lot more complicated.
Just over 1 year ago, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance faced a contentious vote to be approved by City Council. At that time, opponents questioned the need for local protections against discrimination, and even promoted blatant lies about the law regarding restroom usage. After hours of debate and impassioned stories, HERO was passed.
But the drama and legal challenges continued, all of which (thus far) have now lead up to today’s Council meeting. As Katherine Driessen of the Houston Chronicle reports, HERO now faces voters for the 2015 election…
City Council voted to affirm Houston’s equal rights ordinance Wednesday, a move that will send the law to voters in November per a Texas Supreme Court ruling.
City Council voted 12-5 to leave the law in place, with Councilmen Dave Martin, Oliver Pennington, Michael Kubosh, Jack Christie and Councilwoman Brenda Stardig voting to repeal the ordinance. A Texas Supreme Court ruling issued last month ordered the city to either repeal the ordinance or put it on the November ballot.
“All we’re saying by this is that everyone should have an equal opportunity to equal rights,” Councilwoman Ellen Cohen said.
City Council approved the equal rights ordinance 11-6 in May 2014. The ordinance bans discrimination based not just on sexual orientation and gender identity – the flash points for opponents – but also, as federal laws do, sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, disability, pregnancy and genetic information, as well as family, marital or military status. The ordinance applies to businesses that serve the public, private employers, housing, city employment and city contracting. Religious institutions are exempt. Violators can be fined up to $5,000.
“Let the people vote!” was the unending battle cry and singular for HERO opponents, as was evidenced at I Stand Sunday— the worldwide telecast which thrust the Houston Area/Texas/US Pastor Council into international fame and almost certain fortune. In today’s vote by City Hall to place HERO on the ballot, it’s safe to assume that anti-equality leaders have gotten what they want.
But if one assumes as much, they probably little the need for fame and attention… once you get it, you only want more. So it’s no surprise that the Pastor Council has planned an onslaught of lawsuits against the city, including suing for the legal fees they chose to incur thus far.
Texas Leftist will have more on the Pastor Council(s) soon.
Texas Leftist takes a look at the rapid growth of the Houston Area Pastor Council. If Houstonians think think the fight over the Equal Rights Ordinance is over, they better think again. One of the country’s most powerful hate groups is now in our back yard.
And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.
For most politically-engaged Houstonians, the first week of November was focused primarily on the big 2014 election held on Tuesday the 4th. That is when we got to decide the future of the state by electing a Governor, Senator, Lieutenant Governor and legislature. It was a pivotal day for state of Texas, including Houston.
However, few may guess the political importance that happened just days before that big election… events which started in the Bayou City, but could end up proving significant at the national level. November 2nd, now known as I Stand Sunday, marks a very important turning point for the Houston Area Pastor Council. Houstonians probably know this group as those who stood in staunch opposition to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, passed earlier this year. The core of the group consisted of 5 area pastors, among them Dave Welch- Executive Director of the council, and Steve Riggle of Grace Community Church. Both especially significant for their long-held opposition to the Parker administration and full-on assault of the LGBT equality movement in any form. Thanks to creative use of media attention, it became national news when these same pastors received subpoenas for the political work being done within their churches, and from the pulpit. Although the city has long since withdrawn the actual requests to subpoena any sermons, the national outrage that it sparked was enough to turn these local pastors and their local grievances into a world-wide cause.
It was in Riggle’s sanctuary of Grace Community Church where the I Stand Sunday rally was held. But this rally was far more than a gathering of a few in the house of worship. With powerful co-sponsors like the Family Research Council and American Family Association, coverage of I Stand Sunday was viewed by an estimated 1 million people all across the country. It has literally elevated the Houston Pastors and their cause to national prominence. The full I Stand Sunday event can be viewed here.
So much so that the Houston Area Pastor Council has now branched out to become the U.S. Pastor Council… a national organization intent on defeating the equality agenda, and upholding their said religious beliefs. Aided by the likes of Tony Perkins, Phil Robertson, Mike Huckabee and others, what was once little more than a dream by Welch and his close confidants has now become a reality. In 2014, the organization has expanded to a membership of over 700 pastors across the nation, with ready access to the financial and voting power of their congregants. Indeed, the U.S. Pastor Council is well on it’s way to becoming the nation’s most powerful hate group.
Texas Leftist has not chosen to post things like the I Stand Sunday video for promotional purposes. However, it is critically important for those that support the equality movement in Houston and beyond to know what we are up against. If the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance is forced to a ballot, the full weight of the U.S. Pastor Council, FRC and other anti-equality groups will turn their focus to the Bayou City at a level none of us could anticipate. After I Stand Sunday, this is not the same fight that H.E.R.O. proponents faced back in May to get the law passed.
In more big news about the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, the city is taking an interesting new turn in its case. Here’s more on the perplexing news from Katherine Driessen of the Houston Chronicle…
Houston’s embattled equal rights ordinance took another legal turn this week when it surfaced that city attorneys, in an unusual step, subpoenaed sermons given by local pastors who oppose the law and are tied to the conservative Christian activists who have sued the city.
Opponents of the equal rights ordinance are hoping to force a repeal referendum when they get their day in court in January, claiming City Attorney David Feldman wrongly determined they had not gathered enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.
City attorneys issued subpoenas last month as part of the case’s discovery phase, seeking, among other communications, “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”
The subpoenas were issued to pastors and religious leaders who have been vocal in opposing the ordinance: Dave Welch, Hernan Castano, Magda Hermida, Khanh Huynh and Steve Riggle. The Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal organization known for its role in defending same-sex marriage bans, filed a motion Monday on behalf of the pastors seeking to quash the subpoenas, and in a press announcement called it a “witch hunt.”
The city’s lawyers will face a high bar for proving the information in the sermons is essential to their case, said Charles Rhodes, a South Texas College of Law professor. The pastors are not named parties in the suit, and the “Church Autonomy Doctrine” offers fairly broad protections for internal church deliberations, he said.
When asked about the decision to subpoena the sermons in her weekly press conference, Mayor Parker immediately distanced herself from the decision, saying she knew nothing about it…
One word in a very long legal document which I know nothing about and would never have read, and I’m villified coast to coast… it’s a normal day at the office for me. But you’re going to have to ask the City Attorney that question.
There’s no question that the wording was overly broad… It should be clarified and will be clarified. People are rightly concerned if a government entity tries to inhibit, in any way, religious speech. That is not the intent.
Attorney Feldman later responded, and basically echoed the Mayor’s words. Both chalk it up to a document that they never read before issue, trusting pro bono lawyers not employed by the city to construct the subpoena.
This is what the Mayor said on Wednesday morning. But it seems in direct contradiction to what the Mayor tweeted on Tuesday night, saying the sermons are “fair game” and giving further fuel to the media firestorm…
If the 5 pastors used pulpits for politics, their sermons are fair game. Were instructions given on filling out anti-HERO petition?-A
One needs only to look at the process by which the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance was passed to see that both sides were treated with fairness and respect, even when they didn’t always deserve it. So many in the news media seem to be rushing to the defense of the Houston Area Pastor Council, but failing to mention all of the lies and deceitful practices that they have carried out. Just because these pastors claim to be men and women of the cloth does not mean that they are always doing God’s work. They are the ones spreading hate and division, and deserve to be appropriately scrutinized for their actions.
But appropriate scrutiny can be well exercised without having to subpoena sermons shared with their congregations, as Feldman already stated in the press conference. Much of that information has already been compiled by those working to protect the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, and does not need to be extended to direct sacred practices.
Many of the people feigning complete and total outrage against the Mayor are the ones that have hated her since day one. That’s not going to change anytime soon. But what can change is that the city makes sure that in its effort to defend the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, they do not isolate the many religious groups within the law’s broad community of support. The subpoena was cause for legitimate concern, and now that Parker and Feldman have promised to redact the wording to exclude sermons, leave the issue where it is, and make sure that they correct it. Just like in May, it’s time to practice dignity and common sense on both sides.