Published On: Wed, Oct 29th, 2014

Annise Parker withdraws efforts to subpoena Houston Pastors’ sermons

Houston Mayor Annise Parker is still addressing the city’s controversial subpoenaing of five pastors as Parker met with seven national clergy on Tuesday afternoon, listening to their concerns about religious liberties.

The clergy urged Parker to pull down the subpoenas the city sent to five local pastors who led opposition to Houston’s equal rights ordinance, now in limbo as conservative opponents take the city to court.

photo chtfj21

photo chtfj21

“After much contemplation and discussion, I am directing the city legal department to withdraw the subpoenas issued to the five Houston pastors who delivered the petitions, the anti-HERO petitions, to the city of Houston and who indicated that they were responsible for the overall petition effort,” said Parker.

“It is extremely important to me to protect our Equal Rights Ordinance from repeal, and it is extremely important to me to make sure that every Houstonian knows that their lives are valid and protected and acknowledged,” Parker said. “We are going to continue to vigorously defend our ordiance against repeal efforts.”

When news of the subpoenas first surfaced, Parker and City Attorney David Feldman said they did not know about the request for sermons and characterized the subpoena as “overly broad.”

The subpoenas are part of a discovery phase in a suit filed by equal rights opponents, who largely take issue with the rights the law extends to gay and transgender residents.

The original subpoena requested “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.” Parker removed the specific request for sermons, but has still been dogged by negative press from some religious groups.

The following quote is from Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley regarding Houston Mayor Annise D. Parker’s decision Wednesday to withdraw the subpoena of sermons and other communications belonging to several area pastors in a lawsuit in which the pastors are not even involved:

“The mayor really had no choice but to withdraw these subpoenas, which should never have been served in the first place. The entire nation–voices from every point of the spectrum left to right–recognize the city’s action as a gross abuse of power. We are gratified that the First Amendment rights of the pastors have triumphed over government overreach and intimidation. The First Amendment protects the right of pastors to be free from government intimidation and coercion of this sort.”

Stanley continues: But the subpoenas were only one element of this disgraceful episode. The scandal began with another abuse of power when the city of Houston arbitrarily threw out the valid signatures of thousands of voters. The city did this all because it is bent on pushing through its deeply unpopular ordinance at any cost…The subpoena threat has been withdrawn but the mayor and the city should now do the right thing and allow the people of the Houston to decide whether to repeal the ordinance.”

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About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.

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  1. The Truth of Genesis:  A Letter To the U.S. Supreme Court. - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] Take for example the lesbian mayor of Houston Texas, who issued subpoenas to clergymen who had spoken against sin, namely homosexuality. […]

  2. Janet says:

    Good article. It is so obvious that the mayor greatly fears what the results would be if the citizens of Houston were able to vote on the Bathroom Ordinance. Only for the sake of the her political future has she backed down. She is well aware that the nation as a whole, not just Christians, understands she ignored the constitution. If it were just Christians opposing her, she would not have backed down. While her own party did not speak out against her in the media, I am sure she heard from them.

    By claiming there were not 17,000 valid signatures among the 50,000 on the petition, and them going after ministers, it seems to me that she believes that the end justifies the means to have her way. Her political agenda is more important to her than the constitution.

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