Texas is one of those states we keep hearing about. They are leading the nation in wealth building, job creation, and common sense rights that Americans were given with the Constitution. But this is Texas as a whole; some bluer regions of Texas are just having a hard time getting with the program.
Houston is the largest city in Texas and the fifth largest city in the United States. This is in no small part because of its status as an oil town and the 6th largest port in America. It is also home to the 18th Congressional district of Texas which is currently held by the ever idiotic Shelia Jackson-Lee. Remember, this woman who has been sitting in congress since 1995, which means she has been re-elected over 10 times, has proclaimed the Constitution is 400 years old, asked if the Mars Pathfinder had taken a picture of the flag Neil Armstrong put there in 1969, referred to two Vietnams, North and South, working side by side in 2010, and etc. I’ve written about her exploits before and Houston for that matter, but if this is the kind of person that the people of Houston and the surrounding area want representing them in Congress imagine what their local representation is like.
The current Mayor, Annise Parker, seems to run in the same vein as Jackson-Lee, in other words disconnected from the people, the laws, and the Constitution at large with her understanding of law. Mayor Parker is also the first openly gay mayor of a major U.S. city. Normally no one would really care…for years Americans have been supportive of what happens in the privacy of your bedroom is your business. But when you start making bad public policy regarding sexuality, sexual preference, and the like, it starts to matter just a bit more.
In May, Houston passed a controversial equal rights ordinance. You can read it in its entirety here: https://www.houston.org/EqualRights/pdf/equal_rights_ordinance.pdf
Activists wanted to force a repeal referendum because of some of the wording that would allow, among other things, persons who identified themselves as transgender to pick their bathroom while in public spaces and fears that deviants would use the law to engage in licentious behavior. They are now awaiting a court date because the City Attorney David Feldman determined they didn’t have enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. Activists claim they reached the number they needed and therefore there would be a legal battle over the issue.
So far, democracy is at work here. Whether you agree with the HERO (Houston Equal Rights Ordinance) or are against it, the people have the right to have a say in what laws are passed in their communities and sometimes these differences have to be settled in a court of law.
What is uncool, and a definite breach of the First Amendment of the Constitution is when the state, in this case Houston, issued a subpoena that seeks, “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,” to five different local pastors and faith leaders. By the way these people aren’t even a named party in the lawsuit against the city they simply have a religious objection to the city’s stance…which is perfectly within their rights.
First of all, what difference does it make that these pastors may or may not have given a speech or sermon against homosexuality, gender identity, etc? The Christian faith as a whole cares about these issues and they view them as part of a larger moral decay of society, so yes they speak out about them…I don’t see how that has anything to do with the case against the state. Secondly, where does the state get off seeking to gather the speeches of the clergy for their own uses, regardless of whether these houses of faith were for or against the ordinance? These are speeches given by a pastor in their churches and are therefore protected religious speech under the First Amendment, just because the city of Houston isn’t down with that doesn’t mean they can seek to corral these speeches.
This is demonstrative of why these pastors were opposing the ordinance in the first place. The fear that the ordinance would give the city power to restrict or punish legitimate speech and dissent using the guise of equal rights. The ordinance is nothing more than a burden to the legitimate speech and Constitutional rights and by that alone the ordinance has no place in the city of Houston or any other place in the United States.