A 1999 U.S. Supreme Court decision could play a role in the outcome of a lawsuit over Houston Mayor Annise Parker's denial of a petition to revoke the city's new Equal Rights Ordinance.
Around 55,000 signatures were gathered to add to the November ballot a question on whether to repeal the ERO. Since "gender identity" is included in the list of categories that cannot be discriminated against for public accommodations, critics have dubbed the law the "bathroom bill," because males who identify as female would be allowed to use women's bathrooms and females who identify as male would be allowed to use men's bathrooms.
Even though the city secretary, Anna Russell, certified the signatures, Parker refused to add the issue to next week's ballot, arguing that most of the signatures were invalid. more >>
Two of Texas's most popular megachurch pastors, T.D. Jakes of The Potter's House and Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church, Dallas, reflected dueling positions on the state's controversial voter identification law. Jakes dismissed it as "needless" while Jeffress argued that the law is necessary ahead of Tuesday's mid-term elections.
The Texas legislature passed Senate Bill 14 (SB 14) into law in 2011 in a bid to curb voter fraud. It requires voters seeking to cast their ballots in person to present photo identification, such as a Texas driver's or gun license, a military ID or a passport according to votetexas.gov. The law is described as one of the strictest voter identification laws in the country.
Many Democrats and voting rights advocates have been lobbying against the law charging that it stands to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of particularly minority voters, but last month the Supreme Court, in an order which was unsigned and without reason, allowed the law to go into effect ahead of next week's election. more >>
Houston Mayor Annise Parker has announced that she will withdraw the subpoenas against five pastors who have spoken out against the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, an LGBT city ordinance that some opponents claim would allow men to use women's public restrooms.
"After much contemplation and discussion, I am directing the city legal department to withdraw the subpoenas issued to the five Houston pastors who delivered the petitions, the anti-HERO petitions, to the city of Houston and who indicated that they were responsible for the overall petition effort," Parker said during Wednesday's press conference.
"It is extremely important to me to protect our equal rights ordinance from repeal, and it is extremely important to me to make sure that every Houstonian knows that their lives are valid and protected and acknowledged," added Parker, who's the city's first openly-gay mayor. more >>
A large Texas congregation that recently decided to disaffiliate from the largest Presbyterian denomination in the United States over its increasing acceptance of homosexuality is suing to keep its property.
Windwood Presbyterian Church of Houston has been waging a legal battle to not have to pay to keep their church property after having left Presbyterian Church (USA) earlier this year.
Although much has been reported regarding the ethics and legality behind the city of Houston's subpoena of five Houston-area pastors that had asked them to turn over all of their sermons that address homosexuality, gender identity, and the city's first openly-lesbian mayor, little attention has been given to who those five pastors actually are and the ministries they operate.
Although those five pastors, Steve Riggle, David Welch, Hernan Castaño, Khanh Huynh and Magda Hermida, were not technically parties of the lawsuit against the city's new equal rights ordinance that sparked the need for the subpoenas, they all participated in the coalition of 400 Houston area churches that stood in disapproval of the ordinance, which allows transgendered individuals to use public restrooms of the opposite gender.
Steve Riggle more >>
Conservative groups are organizing an event on the first Sunday in November to support the five Houston pastors whose sermons were subpoenaed by city officials. Known as "I Stand Sunday," the event will feature former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd, Alan and Phil Robertson of "Duck Dynasty" fame, and local clergy.
In a conference call held Wednesday afternoon, FRC President Tony Perkins stressed the importance of spreading awareness of what he describes as "political intimidation" tactics coming from Houston city officials.
"This is not about speeches, not about sermons, not about teachings even on biblical morality as to homosexuality, it is about intimidation," said Perkins. "This is about political intimidation and it is about the mayor using the bully pulpit to try and silence the pulpits of Houston." more >>