Houston Mayor Annise Parker

Houston Mayor Annise Parker

Houston’s lesbian mayor, Annise Parker, who unsuccessfully issued subpoenas for the sermons of pastors, creating a nationwide furor, has been slapped down again by the state Supreme Court in her effort to defend an ordinance giving special rights to transgender citizens in employment and use of public places, such as bathrooms.

This time, the court has rejected her council’s wording – which critics says is deceptive – on the ballot voters will use to decide on the ordinance.

The court ruled Houston voters must decide whether they want the ordinance in their city and not whether the existing one should be repealed. Critics say the ordinance would allow men who pose as women to enter women’s restrooms, locker rooms and other gender-specific facilities.

When Parker pushed the ordinance through the city council last year, a coalition led by local pastors immediately collected more than 50,000 signatures on a petition. Under the city charter, the petition should have prompted an immediate repeal or a vote of the residents.

However, Parker and her city attorney fought back, arbitrarily disallowing so many signatures that the petition was disqualified.

When the state Supreme Court ordered city officials to either repeal the ordinance or hold an election, the council determined the vote was to be for or against repeal rather than on the ordinance itself.

Now that move also has been shot down by the court.

“The charter clearly requires the vote to be on the ordinance itself rather than its repeal,” the state Supreme Court said in its Aug. 19 opinion.

Just what is going on in America? The details all are in “A Queer Thing Happened to America,” which explains how America of 40 years ago, when most knew little about homosexuality, arrived at the point that one can’t watch a sitcom without being indoctrinated with the “gay” lifestyle.

“Here, the city council determined that voters should choose between ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ regarding the repeal of the ordinance. The charter, however, when read in conjunction with the Election Code, requires a choice of ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ (or ‘For’ or “Against’) as to the ordinance itself.

“Because the charter clearly defines the city council’s obligation to submit the ordinance – rather than its repeal – to the voters and gives the city council no discretion not to, we hold that this is a ministerial duty,” the court said.

That means, the court said, “the city council has a ministerial duty to submit the ordinance to an affirmative vote by the people of Houston.”

The pastors in the coalition said they were pleased the city’s residents finally will vote on the ordinance.

The newest language approved by the council, to correct the previous wording, is: “Are you in favor of 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?”

Rev. Dave Welch, a spokesman for the coalition, said: “Recognizing that Mayor Parker has attempted every possible means of silencing the voters of the city, repeatedly violating the law while doing so, we are pleased that ‘We the People” will finally have the opportunity to speak on whether Houston should criminalize people of faith, suppress religious freedom and allow men in women’s restrooms.”

He continued: “We believe that this ordinance reflects only a personal agenda by Mayor Parker and ‘my people’ as she describes the LGBT community and not what is good, just, decent and best for Houston. However, we have been willing to put it before the people to decide and we will do all we can to make sure those who revere and respect our founding principles, God’s design of marriage and family and simply basic freedom get out and vote.”

A state lawmaker noted it was the fourth time that the city of Houston has been defeated regarding ballot language and its handling of petitions submitted by citizens.

Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, said, “It is now more than clear that the city of Houston is forcing taxpayers to spend their personal money against the government simply to get Mayor Annise Parker and the city to follow the law.

“It is not the role of local government to spend taxpayer money to actively ignore lawfully collected petition signatures and suppress petitions signed by those they are sworn to represent, much less use deceptive ballot language, per a Supreme Court ruling,” he said.

The court earlier said the city failed to follow its city charter by refusing to schedule an election for the ordinance. Then it ruled the same thing on the city’s plan for the wording of the vote.

Additionally, the high court ruled Houston used deceptive ballot language, misleading voters into enacting a new fee on taxpayers in a separate case, and finally the city was ordered by a state judge to count petition signatures on yet another issue.

“This is the fourth ball call by the umpire and the mayor still will not take a walk and get straight with the law,” said Bettencourt. “Taxpayers have a right to know that their money is not being spent to circumvent the law. The recent ruling by the Texas Supreme Court continues to show that Houston does indeed have a problem.”

He’s asking the state’s lieutenant governor for an interim charge for his legislative committee to investigate the apparently deceptive legal practices being used by Houston.

Parker has accused the pastors of pursuing their case because they are “opposed to a Houston free of discrimination for all.” She said they will “do anything they can to try to confuse the voters.”

The case drew national attention when WND broke the story that Parker had issued subpoenas to the five pastors for copies of their sermons and other communications. After the story spread further through the Drudge Report, the pastors called for an investigation of city hall’s actions.

A subsequent nationwide outpouring of criticism prompted officials to drop the subpoenas.

Rush Limbaugh at the time called the subpoenas “one of the most vile, filthy, blatant violations of the Constitution that I have seen.”

Parker had forced the pastors to go back to the state Supreme Court over the wording.

Coalition attorney Andy Taylor said an Emergency Motion for Expedited Relief was filed with the Texas Supreme Court “to seek a mandamus ordering the mayor and city council to submit ballot language for her ‘Equal Rights Ordinance’ that conforms with the city charter.”

Just what is going on in America? The details all are in “A Queer Thing Happened to America,” which explains how America of 40 years ago, when most knew little about homosexuality, arrived at the point that one can’t watch a sitcom without being indoctrinated with the “gay” lifestyle.

The wording sought by the city for the November election regarding the proposed ordinance provided that a vote “in favor” would mean a repeal, which reverses what many people would expect.

Taylor explained that the prescribed language allows citizens to vote “for” a disputed ordinance.

“Our position is that regardless of whose political advantage it achieves, the city charter requires an affirmative vote to adopt the ordinance, a negative vote to defeat the ordinance and since we have fought for and stood for the rule of law, we will continue to do so, trusting God and His truth to prevail,” the coalition said.

The matter was urgent, since the ballot printing deadline is Aug. 31, the petition explains.

A local broadcaster, KTRH, when the dispute arose, asked, “Is Mayor Annise Parker trying to pull a fast one on Houston voters?”

And the Family Research Council noted: “Jesus said, ‘Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.” Unfortunately, that’ll be a lot harder for Houston voters in the next election. Thanks to an administration that apparently sees people as a nuisance in their advance of an anti-religious freedom agenda, voters will have to pay extra close attention this November, when the Houston bathroom bill is finally on the ballot. Mayor Annise Parker is up to her old tricks – the most recent being her intentional manipulation of the ballot language.”

The commentary continued: “The city council isn’t fighting fair because it knows it can’t win fair. If opening up bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms to any gender were as popular as liberals argue it is, they wouldn’t have to deceive people! At least one member, C.O. Bradford, was outraged that the city was playing games on such a serious issue.”

WND also reported when several of the pastors involved in the dispute sued the mayor.

“Each plaintiff brings this civil rights lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. [Paragraph] 1983 for defendant [Mayor Annise] Parker’s wrongful actions under color of state law depriving each of them of procedural and substantive due process under the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, as well as to vindicate their liberty interests under the Bill of Rights and Amendments to the United States Constitution,” the complaint, filed in Harris County District Court, says.

Although the city secretary certified enough signatures had been turned in, the mayor and city attorney manipulated the results to avoid allowing a popular vote.

Eventually the state Supreme Court stepped into the fight, during which time the city had subpoenaed the pastors’ sermons, and called a halt. The justices ordered the council to either repeal or put to a popular vote the ordinance.

A major and unprecedented focal point of the conflict has been the city’s demands for the Christian ministers’ sermons.

“Now known as the ‘Houston 5,’ several of whom are plaintiffs herein, these Houston pastors valiantly fought the subpoenas by filing motions and briefing in the court from which the subpoenas had been issued,” the lawsuit explains. “Surprisingly, defendant Parker did not back down or apologize. Instead, she and her then-City Attorney, David Feldman, embraced what had transpired and strongly defended their unconstitutional subpoenas and illegal actions.

“For example, David Feldman said: ‘Some [petition] signatures were acquired at churches which make the sermons fair game.’ Feldman also said, ‘If they choose to do this inside the church, choose to do this from the pulpit, then they open the door to the questions being asked.’ The mayor did the same thing. On Twitter, defendant Parker echoed her city attorney’s defense of the subpoenas: ‘If the 5 pastors used pulpits for politics, their sermons are fair game.’

“Thus, by improperly issuing unconstitutional subpoenas, and by refusing to withdraw such subpoenas when given the opportunity and ratifying those wrongful actions instead, Defendant Parker violated the constitutional rights of the Houston 5, emanating from the First Amendment of the United States Constitution,” the complaint says.

 

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