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'We Will Win This in Court,' Says Houston Pastor on City's Sermon Subpoena Fight

Protest against HERO
The group Texas Values Action holds a demonstration against the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. |

The recent debacle involving the city of Houston attempting to subpoena the sermons of five pastors demanding that they turn over their comments addressing homosexuality, gender identity or the city's first lesbian mayor, Annise Parker, hasn't scared off one of the men in the center of the battle.

"The bottom line from our perspective of these subpoenas is that they were an act of intimidation and harassment by the city through the law firms to bury is in this type of a demand in an attempt to shut us down, to try to run us out of time, will, or money to continue this lawsuit to its conclusion," Dave Welch, the executive director of the Houston area U.S. Pastor Council, one of the five who received a subpoena, told The Christian Post Wednesday night about the issue reaching the courts.

"So, they basically have no legal defense for their action. We will win this in court," he said.

Shortly after the story broke regarding the pastors and the subpoenas, Parker and City Attorney David Feldman appeared to attempt to distance themselves from the request for the sermons. Parker even went as far as calling the request "overly broad."

The subpoena was handed down to five pastors and religious leaders last month and came to light this week when the group filed a motion to quash the request.

Feldman initially defended the subpoenas during an interview on Tuesday, but later went on to distance himself from it with Parker.

"There's no question the wording was overly broad," Parker said. "But I also think there was some deliberate misinterpretation on the other side."

Welch addressed Parker and what he believes led to the subpoenas eventually being issued.

"This was really initiated by Mayor Annise Parker, who is obviously a noted, kind of, poster child for the national gay and lesbian movement, proposing this ordinance back in April that was a really massive overreach to begin with, to basically add sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to the city's discrimination ordinance and impose those discrimination protections over the private sector in an unprecedented way," he said.

Welch believes the mayor initiated the action in response to a legal battle over a non-discrimination ordinance known as the "Bathroom Bill."

This bill, also known as the '"Equal Rights Ordinance," was passed earlier this year and allows men to use women's bathrooms and vice versa if they identified as transgender.

"So this has really progressed from a disagreement over a bad law to a fundamental issue of voting rights, now an attack of first amendment rights by this mayor's administration."

Feldman told KTRK-TV earlier this week that he believed the gathering of signatures at local churches against the equal rights ordinances makes examining the sermons of these pastors a valid response.

"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," he said.

However, on Wednesday, Feldman back peddled while addressing the use of the word "sermons" in the subpoena and said he would have worded it differently, according to the Houston Chronicle.

"It's unfortunate that it has been construed as some effort to infringe upon religious liberty," he said.

Welch explained that the signatures were used for a petition that was signed by 50,000 people to overturn the ordinance. They followed it by filing a lawsuit against the city which eventually led to the subpoenas being issued, demanding to review the sermons of the five pastors.

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