City of Houston files subpoenas for documents from pastors

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HOUSTON – The city of Houston has filed a subpoena for documents from local pastors who opposed Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance(HERO).

The ordinance was meant to extend equal rights to the city’s gay and transgender residents.

However, nearly 50,000 people signed a petition to repeal the law.

Opponents of HERO were hoping to get the ordinance repealed with a petition, but the city called the position invalid.

Now, the attorney for the city of Houston wants to know what several pastors have said to members of their congregation in regard to the city’s controversial Equal Rights Ordinance.

The city’s attorney says if the pastors are talking about the ordinance or homosexuality, that is political speech, and is a violation of their church’s tax exempt status.

According to KPRC, city attorney Dave Feldman said the request for information is a part of the discovery process for the lawsuit.

“The goal is to find out if there was specific instructions given on how the petition should be accurately filled out,” Houston Mayor Annise Parker said. “It’s not about what you preached on last Sunday.

Jared Woodfill represents the five pastors being targeted and says this is an all out attack on the first amendment.

“This is a mayor who has waged a full scale war on the churches in Harris County and these pastors are standing up and saying enough is enough and we’re not going to allow it to happen on our watch,” said Woodfill.

The original subpoenas asked for all documents, emails, speeches, presentations or sermons related to HERO, homosexuality, gender identity, or Mayor Annise Parker, the city’s first openly gay mayor.

However, the city revised the subpoenas to exclude the pastors’ sermons.

The anti-discrimination ordinance passed months ago has been the center and focus of protests from some local pastors.

“Her recent antics is to go after pastors. Now remember, these are folks that are no parties to this litigation. These are pastors that simply talked about the issue from the pulpit of their church,” said Woodfill.

Woodfill says there are five pastors being subpoenaed so far.

 

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