Houston city attorneys subpoena sermons from pastors opposed to rights law
Conservative Christian pastors in Houston who opposed an equal rights ordinance had their sermons and other private communications subpoenaed by city attorneys fighting to keep a repeal referendum off the ballot.
Houston's embattled equal rights ordinance took another legal turn this week when it surfaced that city attorneys, in an unusual step, subpoenaed sermons given by local pastors who oppose the law and are tied to the conservative Christian activists that have sued the city.
Opponents of the equal rights ordinance are hoping to force a repeal referendum when they get their day in court in January, claiming City Attorney David Feldman wrongly determined they had not gathered enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. City attorneys issued subpoenas last month during the case's discovery phase, seeking, among other communications, "all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession."
The subpoenas were issued to several high-profile pastors and religious leaders who have been vocal in opposing the ordinance. The Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a motion on behalf of the pastors seeking to quash the subpoenas.
Plaintiff Jared Woodfill said the subpoena impinges on protected religious freedoms.
"This is the city trampling on the First Amendment rights of pastors in their churches," Woodfill said.
Why would they want copies of sermons that mention the mayor? This is intimidation pure and simple, and a fishing expedition. What do they expect to find that has to do with the referendum?
The ordinance would, among other things, make it illegal for a business to deny entry to a restroom of a transgender person. Transgenders are the next big thing in the equal rights arena. Anatomical differences are thrown out the window as the transgendered person gets to decide for themselves whether we view them as a man or a woman, hence their choice of bathroom. It's a silly ordinance and the idea that the pastor's opposition to such nonsense is controversial is absurd.
We should hope that any court in America tosses this subpoena out and upbraids those who issued it.