Victory! TX Supreme Court Stops LGBT Law, Houston Must Repeal or Vote in November
Today, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the Houston City Council must stop enforcement of a controversial anti-religious freedom LGBT ordinance, and the City must either repeal the ordinance or place it on the ballot for vote by the people for the November 2015 election. Earlier this year, a state court held a trial on these issues of basic voting rights of one million Houston registered voters, including the 55,000 citizens who signed the No UNequal Rights referendum. The trial court decision resulted in a ruling that only 16,684 signatures were valid, 600 signatures short of the needed 17,269 for the law to be repealed or placed on the ballot. Jared Woodfill is the lead plaintiff, and a board member for Texas Values Action, and he sought to overturn this trial court ruling by filing a request directly with the Texas Supreme Court (writ of mandamus).
Last year, Mayor Annise Parker and the Houston City Council passed this radical anti-religious freedom LGBT ordinance, despite overwhelming opposition. The ordinance allows men to go into women’s restrooms, forces business owners to violate their religious convictions, and increases government interference in the private sector. The city secretary reported there were more than enough signatures collected to put the ordinance to a referendum, but Mayor Parker and the City Attorney refused to recognize the signatures.
The Texas Supreme Court concluded: “The City Council is directed to comply with its duties, as specified in the City Charter, that arise when the City Secretary certifies that a referendum petition has a sufficient number of valid …Any enforcement of the ordinance shall be suspended, and the City Council shall reconsider the ordinance. If the City Council does not repeal the ordinance by August 24, 2015, then by that date the City Council must order that the ordinance be put to popular vote during the November 2015 election.”
Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values Action, stated:
“This is a total victory for the people of Houston, for free speech, and a major loss for Mayor Parker and LGBT advocates who fought so hard to silence the people’s voice. We are thrilled that the rogue and dictator style tactics of lesbian Mayor Annise Parker and her crew have been stopped by the rule of law and the persistence of faith-based leaders in Houston. The Texas Supreme Court got it right on this one.”
The Court further concluded that: “We agree with the Relators that the City Secretary certified their petition and thereby invoked the City Council’s ministerial duty to reconsider and repeal the ordinance or submit it to popular vote…The legislative power reserved to the people of Houston is not being honored.”
See the full opinion here.
Texas Values Action has been one of the main organizations that fought to defeat the anti-religious freedom LGBT ordinance, generating over 100,000 email messages to the Houston City Council in opposition to the ordinance. Texas Values Action also testified against the ordinance several times in Houston and provided support on the ground for Houston residents, business owners, and church leaders who have been ignored by city leaders including Mayor Parker.
About Texas Values Action
Texas Values Action is the 501(c)(4) advocacy arm of Texas Values, a non-profit organization dedicated to standing for faith, family, and freedom in Texas. More information is available at txvaluesaction.org