Houston’s transgender ordinance, which would allow men who “perceive they are female” to shower with women, has earned the city multiple failures at the state Supreme Court and on Tuesday was rejected resoundingly by more than 60 percent of voters.
But what do they know?
That’s the apparent attitude as lesbian Mayor Annise Parker vowed to keep pressing the issue. Parker did so even after the city got a nationally publicized black eye when she demanded that pastors turn over copies of their sermons so she could see what was being said in opposition to her moral agenda.
“This ordinance, you have not seen the last of. We’re united. We will prevail,” Parker said after Tuesday’s failure at the ballot box.
Houston’s KTRK-TV also reported “political experts” said the ordinance “is far from over.”
The report cited Parker’s warning that Houston wouldn’t be viewed well.
“I fear that this will have stained Houston’s reputation as a tolerant, welcoming, global city,” Parker said in the KTRK report. “I absolutely fear that there will be a direct economic backlash as a result of this ordinance going into defeat, and that’s sad for Houston.”
Ordinance supporters said the characterization of it as a “bathroom bill” that could allow sex offenders to confront or assault girls was wrong.
The station reported a University of Houston political science professor is predicting city officials will revisit the issue, perhaps with different language.
Brandon Rottinghaus said, “Both sides are entrenched. Neither of them can give up, so they both have incentives to dig in and really fight it out until they can get a resolution they’re reasonably happy with.”
CBS News reported Parker “has rallied supporters of a defeated ordinance … telling them the fight isn’t over.”
“I guarantee that justice in Houston will prevail,” she said.
But it won’t be Parker leading the city agenda. She leaves office in a few weeks. Among the candidates facing a runoff for the office, Democratic Rep. Sylvester Turner favors the ordinance, while former Kemah, Texas, Mayor Bill King opposes it.
Parker’s proposal would have allowed residents to file a complaint if they felt that had been subject to discrimination. Sex and race are categories already protected under federal law, but the city plan would have added gender perception to the list of protected classes.
That would have meant a man who identifies himself as a woman would have had full access to ladies locker rooms, restrooms and other gender-specific facilities. Those obstructing or objecting to those arrangements could have been fined $5,000.
The opposition was led by a coalition of hundreds of pastors representing churches of every demographic across Houston.
In a statement they released after the vote affirmed the rejection of Parker’s social plan, they said: “We are blessed beyond measure that God has honored the eighteen months, thousands of volunteer hours, persevering against a massive legal machine and abuse of law to achieve two Texas Supreme Court victories restoring the right of the people to vote and finally the incredible work to turn out the vote by our churches throughout Houston.”
The pastors said the “deception engaged in by Mayor Parker, the Greater Houston Partnership, even some of the media to deflect what this issue is about was ultimately unsuccessful, with the people of this city.”
“Houston citizens spoke resoundingly by an incredible twenty two point margin of victory that we will protect our women and children, preserve our freedom of religion, and promote at all costs what is good, decent and right before our God.”
They noted that it was not a Houston issue but rather part of a larger agenda across America to create for homosexual activists the legal framework to attack Christians and Christianity.
The pastors’ group said: “We will not allow national anti-faith, anti-family groups like Human Rights Campaign, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood to destroy this great city. Houston is not a perfect city, however it is indeed the most diverse and welcoming city of its [size] in the nation, so from the very beginning this was a solution looking for a problem; creating division where there was none.”
WND reported the voters’ rejection of the plan by a 61 percent to 39 percent margin.
Several other jurisdictions have fought the same battle. But the Houston fight featured the demands of a lesbian mayor who subpoenaed the sermons of local pastors.
WND broke the story that Parker had ordered five pastors to turn over copies of their sermons and other communications with their congregations. 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. But the reputation of the city has already been tarnished, with talk-radio icon Rush Limbaugh at the time called the subpoenas “one of the most vile, filthy, blatant violations of the Constitution that I have seen.”
Twice the state Supreme Court ruled against the city in its defense of the ordinance, finally ordering city officials either to drop the measure entirely or let people vote on it.
Rev. Dave Welch, a spokesman for the pastors’ coalition, said the ordinance was a reflection of “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.”
WND also reported when several of the pastors involved in the dispute sued the mayor.
“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 pastors’ 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 said.