In June of this year, the Houston City Council essentially passed a ‘non-discrimination’ bill to allow transgenders to use whichever bathroom they choose. For obvious reasons critics denounced the bill, arguing that it would allow men to use women’s bathrooms, potentially putting women in danger.
Thus began a petition drive in the city to force the city council to repeal the “bathroom bill.” The drive yielded more than three times the number of signatures needed and was officially certified, but the mayor and city attorney rejected the certification and did nothing.
The mayor, Annise Parker, is a former gay activist who recently married her partner in January of this year.
A lawsuit has been filed against the city for rejecting the valid petitions.
Now city officials are angry and are subpoenaing sermons from local pastors, despite the fact that they have nothing to do with the lawsuit.
The Alliance Defence Fund, who is representing the pastors, says the city is trying to be ‘big brother’ and is wanting to see if any of the pastors have ever criticized the city:
“City council members are supposed to be public servants, not ‘Big Brother’ overlords who will tolerate no dissent or challenge,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley. “In this case, they have embarked upon a witch-hunt, and we are asking the court to put a stop to it.”
“The city’s subpoena of sermons and other pastoral communications is both needless and unprecedented,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “The city council and its attorneys are engaging in an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of its actions. Political and social commentary is not a crime; it is protected by the First Amendment.”
The ADF argues that these are constitutionally protected sermons and that the city’s request for these sermons is illegitimate. The are asking the District Court of Harris County to quash the subpoena.