City of Houston subpoenas pastors' sermons in equal rights ordinance case

first amendment
Houston Chronicle: 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 (Houston Equal Rights Ordinance), 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. The city attorney’s office has not responded to requests for comment.
Todd Starnes at Fox has more:
“The city’s subpoena of sermons and other pastoral communications is both needless and unprecedented,” Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Christina Holcomb said in a statement. “The city council and its attorneys are engaging in an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of its actions.”
ADF, a nationally-known law firm specializing in religious liberty cases, is representing five Houston pastors. They filed a motion in Harris County court to stop the subpoenas arguing they are “overbroad, unduly burdensome, harassing, and vexatious.”  “Political and social commentary is not a crime,” Holcomb said. “It is protected by the First Amendment.”
The subpoenas are just the latest twist in an ongoing saga over the Houston’s new non-discrimination ordinance. The law, among other things, would allow men to use the ladies room and vice versa.  The city council approved the law in June.
The Houston Chronicle reported opponents of the ordinance launched a petition drive that generated more than 50,000 signatures – far more than the 17,269 needed to put a referendum on the ballot. However, the city threw out the petition in August over alleged irregularities.
After opponents of the bathroom bill filed a lawsuit the city’s attorneys responded by issuing the subpoenas against the pastors. The pastors were not part of the lawsuit. However, they were part of a coalition of some 400 Houston-area churches that opposed the ordinance. The churches represent a number of faith groups – from Southern Baptist to non-denominational.
“City council members are supposed to be public servants, not ‘Big Brother’ overlords who will tolerate no dissent or challenge,” said ADF attorney Erik Stanley.  “This is designed to intimidate pastors.”

Mayor Parker on right.

Mayor Parker on right.


Mayor Parker will not explain why she wants to inspect the sermons. I contacted City Hall for a comment and received a terse reply from the mayor’s director of communications.“We don’t comment on litigation,” said Janice Evans.
However, ADF attorney Stanley suspects the mayor wants to publicly shame the ministers. He said he anticipates they will hold up their sermons for public scrutiny. In other words – the city is rummaging for evidence to “out” the pastors as anti-gay bigots.
Among those slapped with a subpoena is Steve Riggle, the senior pastor of Grace Community Church. He was ordered to produce all speeches and sermons related to Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality and gender identity. The mega-church pastor was also ordered to hand over “all communications with members of your congregation” regarding the non-discrimination law.
“This is an attempt to chill pastors from speaking to the cultural issues of the day,” Riggle told me. “The mayor would like to silence our voice. She’s a bully.”
parker
Gee, you think Mayor Parker has a personal agenda?
DCG

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Dr. Eowyn
Admin

The mayor of Houston is an open lesbian! When did Houston become the San Francisco of Texas?
I’d read some time ago that the Left and their big money have set their sights on Texas, having already transformed formerly conservative Colorado into a “blue” state. Looks like the Left are well into their “hope and change” devolution of Texas. 🙁

 
BobToonist
Guest
BobToonist

Last year, American Mensa did an article about the mayor in their members’ publication, expressing pride that an openly lesbian member of the High IQ Society held such a lofty position in a major American city. I have to wonder if they still feel such pride in view of the mayor’s intolerance of traditional Christian beliefs (which I thought were protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution), which is, in fact, suppression of free speech.
They probably do, since Mensa is a left-leaning organization. Not all members, of course, but the organization as a whole.

 
mike cdiamond
Guest

how could the city of houston subpoena pastors serman????????IT IT IS NOT ANY OF THEIR BUSINESS!

 
Kevin Lankford
Member
Kevin Lankford

They need only read their bibles, or get one and read it, and they would know all they needed to know about all the ministers sermons.

 
pnordman
Guest

Wow – it isn’t often that I’m speechless….

 
art
Guest
art

I bet they wouldn’t dare subpoena an Islame-ic Imam (sp) Jihad sermon. Evil seems to blossom each day more and more and the sheeple don’t even flinch
Between Satanists getting statues of Satan with little children installed next to the 10 Commandments and black masses being openly celebrated. I doubt we have too much longer before God puts his foot down
I was listening to the radio (brainwashing) news and one little cheerful factoid was now 38 states approve gay marriages but they said they will not stop until all 50 do
The former US of A is toast

 
TrailDust
Admin
TrailDust

This is the story that got my blood boiling today. It actually surpasses anything I’ve seen in American government. Such fascism must be resisted, or it will spread and become murderous.

 
Seumas
Guest
Seumas

Multi-user Bathrooms open to “all genders” don’t just up a risk of rape/sexual assault to adults, lest we forget, children also use those restrooms. The gender distinction is there as a shield as well as other things, what business does a male have in the females restroom if not a bowel or bladder-related emergency? Private parts are called such because they aren’t for public display, as would happen in a “all-gender”, multi-user bathroom. Also, the pedophilic teachers will likely be elated about that, what with them being able to legally creep into the opposite gender children’s restroom, or install a… Read more »

Dr. Eowyn
Admin

Todd Starnes for Fox News, “Pastors to mayor: Don’t mess with Texas pulpits”: Christians across the nation are mobilizing to defend a group of Houston pastors who were ordered by the city to turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity issues or Houston mayor. Their message is simple – Don’t Mess with Texas Preachers. Dave Welch, the executive director of the Texas Pastor Council, is one of the five ministers who received a subpoena. He said he will not be intimidated by Annise Parker, who is the city’s first openly lesbian mayor, nor will he comply with the… Read more »

Mike howrightismike
Member
Mike howrightismike

This attempt is evil personified. How did this ***** ever get elected? Someone with big pockets must be behind her. (Now I know why the government is spending millions for research on why lesbians are fat.)

 
Dave
Editor
Dave

If I were a pastor in Houston, I’d give the mayor the proverbial finger – lickity split.
-Dave