The coalition of pastors from Houston who defeated lesbian Mayor Annise Parker’s transgender-rights ordinance – a fight that included her subpoenas of sermons – now are volunteering to help pastors in Dallas oppose a similar measure.
“We will work with Dallas pastors to determine how to appropriately respond to the wholesale catering by city council to the radical, anti-faith, anti-family agenda of the LGBT Human Rights Campaign,” said Rev. Dave Welch, president of the Texas Pastor Council.
Welch said Dallas’ change to its existing nondiscrimination ordinance “not only opens but essentially removes the doors of women’s restrooms, showers and locker rooms in Dallas, as well as criminalizes businesses, employees as well as eventually, churches who attempt to keep men out.”
WND has reported extensively on the Houston fight, which took nearly two years. It ended last week when citizens, by order of the state Supreme Court, were allowed to vote on the measure and soundly rejected it, 62 percent to 38 percent.
The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance would have banned discrimination against transgender people, allowing, for example, men who perceive themselves to be women to use women’s restrooms, locker rooms and other gender-specific facilities in the city. Anyone opposing or obstructing them could have been fined $5,000.
The Texas Pastor Council’s Welch condemned the change in the Dallas ordinance as an attack on society’s foundation.
“There are many issues that our city governments should be focused on to improve the city, and this ordinance patently rejects cornerstones of our civilization that family is built upon the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, that our sex is embedded in our chromosomes, and this beautiful created order is a gift from God.”
Welch added, “A bad tree cannot produce good fruit and a law based on elevating gender confusion to being a protected class equal with race can only produce harm, not good.”
The Dallas law protecting “gender identity and expression” says the places of public accommodation that must grant a man who defines his gender as female full access to women’s facilities are any inn, hotel, temporary lodging, restaurant, cafeteria, lunchroom, soda facility, motion picture house, theater, concert hall, and retail or wholesale establishment selling goods or services.
The measure, Welch said, is a “bottomless Pandora’s Box.”
“Definition A plus Definition B equals exposing girls and women to violation of their privacy as well as their safety,” he said.
He said city officials in Dallas should have paid attention to the Houston vote and learned that pastors and citizens will react negatively to such a social agenda.
“As our very ethnically diverse coalition of pastors in Houston stated and showed for the last eighteen months, every one of us are for equal rights for all, however we cannot allow special rights for a tiny fraction of society to endanger the safety and freedom for the rest,” he said.
Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer wrote that Dallas didn’t pass an ordinance but “adjusted the language of an ordinance that’s existed since 2002 in a way that made very little change to how anyone in the city is treated.”
He said in Houston, voters denied “protection” to their fellow residents.
Young said the Dallas ordinance “doesn’t even have the word restroom in it, and the failed Houston law only allowed opposite-gender restroom use in a fantasy world in which trans people don’t exist.”
At the Advocate, Dawn Ennis explained that while “sexual orientation” has been a protected class for years, “gender identity” was a class left unprotected.
She noted there was no organized opposition to the expansion of the sexual identity protections, but critics say that was because there was very little notice to the public of the looming change.
Texas Values Action blasted the Dallas law and its quick adoption.
“This Dallas bathroom ordinance will allow men into women’s bathrooms and that’s why the Dallas city council is deliberately trying to avoid the people,” said a statement released by the group’s president, Jonathan Saenz.
“Their fast track method of passing this dangerous bill that threatens the safety of women and children is the same strategy used in Houston to disenfranchise voters with their failed bathroom bill. Creating law behind closed doors and forcing it onto the people the next morning is a recipe for disaster. These Obama and D.C. style tactics will not work in Texas. Get ready for a Texas-sized response.”
The strategy in Houston was to move the ordinance through the city council quickly. City officials then tried to invalidate a petition demanding a public vote.
After a months-long court fight, the state Supreme Court stepped in and ordered the city to repeal the ordinance or put it on the election ballot in compliance with the city charter.
Some of the pastors who were targeted by the mayor’s subpoena have filed a lawsuit charging her with violating their rights.