Houston mayor tries to appease criticism, says the city will “narrow the scope” of the sermon subpoenas

This Houston mayor just doesn’t seem get it. Her way of responding to criticism is to say she shares the concern people have about her government’s fascism, promising only to narrow the scope of the fascism instead of getting rid of it all together:

WASHINGTON TIMES – After calling church sermons “fair game” for subpoena, Houston Mayor Annise Parker backed down Wednesday from the city’s effort to force local pastors to turn over speeches and papers related to a hotly contested transgender rights ordinance.

The city had asked five pastors for “all speeches, presentations, or sermons” on a variety of topics, including the mayor, and “gender identity.”

The subpoena prompted a storm of criticism when it became public Tuesday. The pastors are involved in legal efforts to overturn the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, also known as the “bathroom bill.”

The pastors and their allies called the city’s broad demand a threat to religious freedom and proof that gay and transgender rights bills can be used as weapons to demonize Christianity.

“The government has no business asking pastors to turn over their sermons,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican.

Ms. Parker’s office initially doubled down in the face of such criticism but issued a statement late Wednesday saying the mayor “agrees with those who are concerned about the city legal department’s subpoenas for pastors’ sermons.”

The statement says the city will “move to narrow the scope during an upcoming court hearing” and that city attorney David Feldman “says the focus should be only on communications related to the petitions to overturn the ordinance.”

Joe La Rue, legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, which has moved to quash the subpoenas, called the mayor’s turnaround “wholly inadequate.”

He noted that the city still appears to want some sermons and other documents related to the lawsuit over the petition drive, which the city rejected after saying too many of the signatures were invalid.

“These sermons, emails and texts have nothing to do with whether the coalition gathered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot,” Mr. La Rue said.


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