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.
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."
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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."