Organizers of the anti-Houston Equal Rights Ordinance petition have filed suit against Mayor Annise Parker, saying she and unnamed "conspirators" unconstitutionally rejected valid petition signatures and "smothered the Citizen Referendum Petition in the crib." (Gotta love a lawsuit whose opening salvo includes infanticide imagery!).
Filed by four pastors, the suit comes on the heels of a Texas Supreme Court finding that Houston City Council should have put the HERO ordinance to referendum. The court suspended the ordinance and ordered Council to either repeal it or put it on the November ballot.
The pastors were against the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance because, as their attorney Andy Taylor explains in a weird footnote, "that label is deceptive and false. Far from creating equality, 'HERO' creates special rights, not equal rights, for biological males to enter the public restrooms reserved for adult women, adolescent girls, and infants."
The pastors are seeking compensation for civil rights violations, as well as court costs.
The suit alleges that "as a result of the hard work of all concerned, a successful referendum petition drive produced over 54,000 signatures on the Citizen Referendum Petition," but that Parker and then-City Attorney David Feldman "wrongfully inserted themselves into the process...dared the public to challenge their decision in court if they did not agree with their rejection of the [petition], and arrogantly and illegally refused to obey their mandatory duties under the Houston City Charter."
Moreover, the pastors say that Parker "[ran] roughshod over her veteran colleague City Secretary Anna Russell" and "trampled the voting rights of over a million voters in the fourth largest city in the United States of America in an unprecedented and colossal violation of every Houstonian's civil rights."
The pastors, whose sermons were subpoenaed during the City Attorney's investigation into the validity of the petition process, scheduled a press conference Monday morning so they could brief the media on how "they fought back against the religious assault by Houston City Hall."
We reached out to the Mayor's Office for comment and will update if we hear back.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.