Under state law, anti-LGBT activists hoping to repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance needed 17,249 signatures on their petition to trigger a public vote that they hope would ultimately repeal the non-discrimination ordinance. When former Houston City Attorney David Feldman tossed their petition last August, saying HERO foes had failed to gather enough valid signatures, it set in motion a tedious, mind-numbing court battle over how many of those signatures met legal standards.
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On Friday afternoon, state District Judge Robert Schaffer came out with his final tally: 16,684 signatures, or 565 shy of what was needed to send the anti-discrimination ordinance to a public vote.
While city officials cheered the decision as a victory for civil rights, it's still not clear when the protections for LGBT citizens ensconced in HERO might finally go into effect (*UPDATE: the Chron now reports the law is in effect, however the anti-LGBT contingent that filed the lawsuit in the first place of course plans to appeal the judge's ruling.)
Mayor Annise Parker issued this statement after Friday's ruling: "I would hope that the plaintiffs would not appeal, they lost during a jury trial and today they also lost with the judge's ruling. Now all Houstonians have access to the same protections."
For her part, City Attorney Donna Edmundson responded to the judge's ruling by saying, "This is a great victory in the courts, and a great day for civil rights in Houston, Texas."