Judge: Anti-HERO Signatures Shy of Referendum, But There Are Still More to Count

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Opponents of the city's equal rights ordinance are still about 3,000 signatures short of the amount required for a referendum, the Houston Chronicle is reporting. But 8,500 more signatures are still to be reviewed for authenticity.

A coalition of conservatives who opposed the bill submitted what they said were enough valid signatures last year, but city officials questioned the legitimacy of many of the signatures, and said the ordinance's opponents fell short. The opponents sued the city, and a jury found in March that their petition "contained forgery and other flaws."

However, the jury's finding wasn't final, and now Harris County District Court Judge Robert Schaffer is now tallying the remaining signatures to see if they meet the 17,269 required for a referendum.

Attorneys for the city claim the ordinance's opponents only have about 2,000 valid signatures, but Andy Taylor, the opponents' attorney, told the Chron that "Even my 9-year-old can read most of these signatures the city and the Mayor claim they can't read."

Reporters were not allowed in a jury room Thursday when Schaffer announced his first count, but attorneys told the Chron that the judge could issue a final decision as soon as early April.

We're pretty sure that if Schaffer's final tally rules out a referendum, the plaintiffs won't go gentle into that good night (especially if there are transgender people there) and will appeal. We have a feeling that we'll be hearing from these folks for quiet a while.

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