Opponents of a non-discrimination ordinance passed by the Houston City Council that allows “gender-confused” persons to use public restrooms of the opposite sex are appealing to the state Supreme Court, arguing the city is violating its own charter.
The Equal Rights Ordinance, approved by an 11-6 vote in May, designates homosexuals and transgender persons as a protected class. Critics say the measure effectively enables sexual predators who dress as women to enter female public bathrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities.
A coalition of activists that includes area pastors filed suit Aug. 6 against the city and lesbian Mayor Annise Parker after officials announced a voter petition to repeal the measure didn’t have enough signatures to qualify for the election ballot.
Parker, who has acknowledged the ordinance is “all about me,” was legally married to her same-sex partner in California in January.
Similar measures in other jurisdictions across the country have sparked controversy. Opponents point to incidents such a man in Indianapolis who allegedly went into a women’s locker room at a YMCA and watched girls, ages 7 and 10, shower.
The coalition includes the Baptist Ministers Association of Houston, the Houston Area Pastor Council, the Houston Ministers against Crime, AME Ministers Alliance of Houston/Gulf Coast, the Northeast Ministers Alliance, the South Texas Full Gospel Baptist Fellowship, the South Texas District of the Assemblies of God and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
The coalition had submitted more than 55,000 signatures in the referendum drive. City Secretary Anna Russell confirmed in writing Aug. 1 that the petition sponsors had submitted 17,846 qualified signatures, nearly 600 above the minimum 17,269.
However, City Attorney David Feldman announced 2,750 petitions were invalid because of “technical problems.”
Opponents have argued Feldman did not have the authority to step in and make the decision, arguing it should have been handled by the courts.
After appellate judges Martha Jamison, William Boyce and Tracy Christopher refused to rule on the basic facts asserted by petition sponsors that they had met the minimum number required, the ordinance was suspended pending a trial scheduled for next January.
The coalition on Wednesday filed an appeal to the Texas Supreme Court
“We committed from day one that we would not yield, bow, bend or falter in fighting for the safety of our women and children, our basic constitutional freedoms and the fundamental right to vote,” said Rev. Dave Welch of the Houston Area Pastor Council on behalf of the coalition.
“Neither city officials who conspire to deprive citizens of our voting rights nor judges who can’t seem to make a decision based on clear facts will deter our commitment to seek truth and justice. The evidence we have presented to the courts is irrefutable, which is why our mayor and the highest paid city attorney in America have hired at least three major outside law firms and marched 15 of their attorneys into the courtroom to our one.”
He said the coalition is seeking from the high court an order confirming the suspension of the ordinance or a ruling placing it on the ballot “as required by the city charter.”
“Our attorneys are convinced that the city will attempt continued delays of the trial even beyond January,” Welch said. “Their hired guns even arrogantly accused our pastors and citizen leaders of engaging in fraud. The brazen attempted theft of our voting rights by the Parker/Feldman regime is an appalling abuse of government power against its own citizens; an abuse we trust will be corrected by our state Supreme Court justices.”
The coalition earlier noted U.S. District Judge Gray Miller had denied the city’s attempt to have a legal action over the ordinance moved to federal court and remanded it back to state court.
Critics dubbed the Houston law the “sexual predator protection act,” claiming that by designating transgender or gender-confused persons as a protected class, women and children are threatened by predators seeking to exploit the ordinance’s ambiguous language.
Political activist Steven F. Hotze said the ordinance would establish minority status for transvestites, allowing men who dress as women to enter women’s public bathrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities.
“I want to protect my wife, daughters and granddaughters from being exposed to the dangers of male sexual predators masquerading as women in women’s public bathrooms and other facilities,” he said. “This is why it has been called the Sexual Predators’ Protection Act.”
Houston is just the latest jurisdiction to adopt such provisions.
WND reported citizens in Maryland launched a voter initiative against a law approved by the legislature that allows people to use sex-segregated facilities according to their “perceived” gender.
Opponents there also charge the law effectively allows men to use women’s bathroom and shower facilities.
The new Maryland law, the “Fairness For All Marylanders Act,” would allow the man “to do the same thing in Maryland if he simply claims to identify as a woman,” according to the citzens group MDPetitions, which was collecting signatures to put the issue on the fall ballot.
Critics of the Maryland bill also cite the case of convicted sexual predator Christopher Hambrook in Toronto. Hambrook claimed to be a transgender and preyed on women at two Toronto shelters.
But under the new Maryland law, he would be able to go into women’s restrooms.
In Houston, recent Harris County Republican Party Chairman Jared Woodfill said there is “no room for ambiguity where it concerns public safety.”
“I have fought these battles as an attorney for decades and as chairman of the Harris County Republican Party more recently. Warm fuzzies for special interests cannot be allowed to supersede the safety of our citizens,” he said.
Woodfill said “criminal minds” are already abusing the ordinance.
“No slippery slope fallacies are necessary to illustrate the dangerous nature of this terrible ordinance,” he said.
Hotze, who runs the largest Political Action Committee in Texas, said business owners who disapprove of a person’s actions or moral character should not be coerced to violate their moral or religious beliefs.
“According to Parker’s ordinance, if you refused to hire, do business with, or refused a transvestite access to female restrooms, locker rooms or shower, then you would be prosecuted as a criminal,” he argued.
“Sexual lifestyle and gender confusion are not equal to race, disability or other legitimate minorities,” Hotze asserted.
WND reported earlier that the idea already had been adopted in Montgomery County, Maryland.
That “bathroom bill” was followed by adoption by California lawmakers of a plan allowing public school children to represent themselves to school officials as whichever gender they choose, allowing them to use facilities designated for the opposite sex.
Antipathy for opponents of the homosexual-promoting agenda in public education and the public square in Maryland runs deep.
WND reported Joshua Starr, the superintendent of the Montgomery County, Maryland, school district, was the target of a request for a civil rights investigation after he described supporters of traditional marriage as “really, really disgusting.”
At the time, Regina Griggs, executive director of Parents and Friends of Gays and Ex-Gays, said Starr “misused his official position as school superintendent to gain access to students and indoctrinate them with his prejudicial bias against the ex-gay community.”
“The Department of Justice has investigated complaints against schools for discriminating against transgenders – those who have changed their gender identity. The ex-gay community – those who have changed their sexual orientation – asks for equal treatment from our federal government,” she said.
WND last August reported that a well-organized coalition of pro-family and civic organizations in Miami-Dade County, Florida, soundly defeated a state measure that would have given transsexuals access to public restrooms and locker rooms used by the opposite sex.
The Miami-Dade Commission gave initial approval to adding “gender identity and expression” to the county’s anti-discrimination law by an 11-1 vote but the measure stalled after intense lobbying by opponents, led by the local Christian Family Coalition.
Sponsors withdrew it the bill because they lacked the votes to get it through committee.
The victory in liberal Miami-Dade “is really landmark,” said Christian Family Coalition executive director Anthony Verdugo of the win 36 years after singer Anita Bryant led the successful repeal of Miami-Dade County’s homosexual rights law.
Colorado adopted a radical “transgender nondiscrimination” bill in 2008 that makes it illegal to deny a person access to public accommodations, including restrooms and locker rooms, based on gender identity or the “perception” of gender identity. One consequence of the law is a ruling forcing authorities to permit 6-year-old Coy Mathis – a boy who says he thinks he’s a girl – to use the girls bathroom at his elementary school.
Nationwide, 17 states and the District of Columbia have embraced the transsexual agenda. Rhode Island added “gender identity and expression” to its anti-discrimination law in June with the support of Gov. Jack Markell, and Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden announced his support in an Equality Delaware video.
But other attempts to advance the transsexual agenda were defeated in Montana, Missouri, North Dakota and New York, where state Senate leaders refused to allow a vote.
Here what happened in Washington state:
The Obama administration is solidly behind the move to open locker room doors to some members of the opposite sex.
- President Obama signed the U.N. Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity;
- The White House hosted the first-ever meeting with transgender activists;
- The Department of State made it easier for transsexuals to change the sex indicated on passports;
- The U.S. Justice Department sided with a transsexual individual in an employment discrimination suit against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives;
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled for the first time last year that "gender identity or expression" in the workplace is protected under federal civil rights law;
- The Office of Personnel Management inserted "gender identity" for the first time into its federal workplace anti-discrimination policy;
- The American Psychiatric Association removed "gender identity disorder" from its list of mental health ailments in late 2012, a move some regarded as a lifting of the social stigma attached to transsexual behavior.