Houston Mayor Annise Parker has decided not to subpoena the sermons of pastors who led a drive to put a controversial Equal Rights Ordinance on the ballot, but she's still refusing to accept the valid signatures of 50,000 citizens who want to vote on the new law.
Click2Houston.com is reporting that the openly gay mayor called a press conference yesterday morning to announce that she is withdrawing the subpoenas which caused a firestorm of criticism from around the country and brought her a stinging rebuke from U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Peter Kirsanow.
"After much contemplation and discussion, I am directing the city legal department to withdraw the subpoenas issued to the five Houston pastors who delivered the petitions, the anti-HERO petitions, to the city of Houston and who indicated that they were responsible for the overall petition effort," said Parker.
"It is extremely important to me to protect our Equal Rights Ordinance from repeal, and it is extremely important to me to make sure that every Houstonian knows that their lives are valid and protected and acknowledged," Parker said. "We are going to continue to vigorously defend our ordinance against repeal efforts."
Her vigorous defense of the ordinance, which will allow people to use bathrooms based on what gender they think they are rather than their biological gender, is to continue to challenge the validity of the signatures gathered in a petition drive which were certified by the city's secretary.
"When the petitions are investigated we are clearly convinced that we did this right, that there are plenty of valid signatures," said Pastor Steve Riggle of Grace Community Church, one of the five pastors involved in the case.
Even though the withdrawal of the subpoenas is good news, this battle isn't over yet.
"As we have stated since the beginning of this intrusion into the private affairs of Houston churches; this is not about subpoenas, this is not about sermons, it is not even about biblical teaching on sexual immorality, it is about political intimidation and the bullying by Mayor Parker that continues," says Family Research Council president Tony Perkins.
"Despite the fact that the citizens of Houston gathered over 50,000 signed petitions in 30 days, which is 30,000 more than required by the city charter, the Mayor has refused to allow the people of Houston to vote on her unfair special rights ordinance that discriminates against religious freedom within the city and endangers citizens by declaring that public bathrooms can no longer be limited on the basis of a person's actual biological sex.
"The citizens of Houston have a right to vote, and Mayor Parker has denied them that right. America must see the totalitarianism that accompanies the redefinition of marriage and human sexuality, which results in citizens being denied their most fundamental rights."
Thousands of Christians from across the country will be gathering in Houston this weekend for "I Stand Sunday", an event meant to support the embattled pastors of Houston and the people's fundamental right to petition their government.
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