The city attorney in Houston, where the council recently adopted a "nondiscrimination" ordinance that has caused trouble elsewhere when it's been interpreted to allow men into women's restrooms, is being accused of conspiracy for his decision to step into a petition procedure and say they are invalid.
"We can reach no other conclusion than that Mr. [David] Feldman is engaging in a conspiracy to deprive the citizens of Houston the right to vote on this referendum for which we have complied with city charter standards," said a statement issued on Friday by a coalition of pastors and other groups.
"This is outrageous, unethical and unlawful."
And it's going to court.
A group made up of 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 issued a statement just one day earlier.
In it, they noted that 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. They are in court trying to derail a plan by lesbian Mayor Annise Parker to install the ordinance in the city.
Shortly after that, Texas Civil District Court Judge Jeff Shadwick granted a temporary restraining order forbidding the enforcement of the ordinance until the fight is resolved.
"As of today, the Equal Rights Ordinance is suspended and cannot be enforced pending outcome of the trial," the coalition statement said.
The report said the trial is set to begin Aug. 15, "at which the merits of our case are presented for the judge to rule on. The essence of our position is simple and we believe, irrefutable. The city secretary and only the city secretary is charged by the city charter with validating whether the minimum of 17,269 qualified signatures had been submitted."
The pastor groups reported that City Secretary Anna Russell issued a report dated Aug. 1 confirming she checked 19,177 signatures, and certified 17,826, more than enough to force the city either to rescind the ordinance or put it up for a vote.
However, Feldman then announced that 2,750 petitions were invalid because of "technical problems."
The pastors have argued Feldman did not have the authority to step in and make that decision.
"The issue is only appropriate for the courts to determine," the statement said.
"Let the people vote," they said. "We will not be silenced and it is clear that the prayers being sent up on behalf of this cause are being heard and responded to by our gracious God."
"We submitted well over double the number she actually checked, leading to the conclusion that with that validation rate we could easily have double the number needed to satisfy the minimum needed," the statement said.
The ordinance was adopted 11-6 by the Houston City Council on the insistence of Parker, who has acknowledged it's "all about me."
Rev. Dave Welch, founder of the U.S. Pastor Council, then announced the petition drive to try to overturn the ordinance.
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.