The Subpoena Saga: Houston Officials’ Misstep Feeds Religious Right Persecution Complex

Oct 20, 2014

By Rob Boston

Last week, a story began circulating in the media about five conservative churches that were subpoenaed in Houston and ordered to turn over any sermons they had delivered about gay rights (along with a lot of other material).

Religious Right groups went ballistic. It often turns out in cases like this that what’s really going is less horrifying than the far right would have you believe. In this case, it turns out they actually had a point.

Some background: Houston officials in May passed an ordinance protecting LGBT rights. The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) is controversial in part because it gives transgender individuals the right to use the restroom of their choice in public buildings and businesses. (Religious entities are exempt.)

Conservative Christians don’t like HERO and are seeking to overturn it via a ballot referendum. To get the matter on the ballot, opponents had to collect about 16,000 signatures. They collected 50,000, but there were problems with many of them. A huge number of signatures were rejected, and the measure failed to qualify for the city ballot.


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