Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Texas Mayor Subpoenas Churches to Obtain Sermons

C'mon Texas- I thought you were better than this.

After activists and religious organizations in the Houston area rallied against a city ordinance signed by the city's openly lesbian mayor, pastors in area churches said that they had received subpoenas from city attorneys demanding the content of their sermons.

City attorneys issued subpoenas last month during 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 several high-profile pastors and religious leaders who have been vocal in opposing the ordinance. The Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a motion on behalf of the pastors seeking to quash the subpoenas.

The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) was signed into law by mayor Annise Parker in May 2014. Supporters of HERO say that the ordinance prevents discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, marital or military status. Opponents say that the language in the ordinance is too sweeping and violates the religious freedoms of those whose faith does not recognize same-sex marriages.

An attempt was made by opponents to put the issue up for referendum via the ballot, but the petition to get it on the ballot was short after 2,000 signatures were deemed invalid by the same city attorneys who attempted to subpoena pastors for the content of their sermons this month [[curiously, there's no word on whether or not city attorneys issued any subpoenas to Houston-area mosques- NANESB!].

A similar ordinance was passed in San Antonio last year, despite objections by numerous religious organizations.

Curiously enough, in either case neither mayor has to worry about re-election after approving the controversial ordinances. In Houston, Mayor Parker is term-limited while in San Antonio, Mayor Juan Castro was appointed to secretary of Housing and Urban development by the Obama Administration in May 2014.

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