City of Houston Issues Subpoenas for Communication between pastors and members

City of Houston Issues Subpoenas for Communication between pastors and members

The main aim of Houston's Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) was to extend equal rights to the city's gay and transgender residents. But nearly 50,000 people signed a petition to revoke the law.

People who were not in the favor of the HERO were expecting that the ordinance would be repealed with a petition. Now, the city of Houston has filed a subpoena for documents from local pastors, who opposed the ordinance.

The attorney for the city of Houston will inquire the communication taken place between pastors and members of their congregation with regard to Houston's ordinance. If the pastors are found talking about the ordinance or homosexuality, it would be considered as a violation of their church's tax exempt status.

City attorney Dave Feldman said the subpoena procedure is a part of the discovery process for the lawsuit. Main aim is to know whether or not specific instructions were given about how the petition should be filed, affirmed Houston Mayor Annise Parker.

Jared Woodfill representing the five pastors being targeted, said, "This is a mayor who has waged a full scale war on the churches in Harris County and these pastors are standing up and saying enough is enough and we're not going to allow it to happen on our watch".

Some changes have been made in the subpoenas. The original subpoenas asked for documents, emails, speeches, presentations related to HERO, homosexuality, gender identity and Mayor Annise Parker, the city's first openly gay mayor.

Later, the city made alterations and the revised subpoenas excluded the pastors' sermons. The subpoena has attracted criticism from conservatives across the country.

Though the city removed the word 'sermon' and narrowed the scope, the gist of the subpoena still stands. Now, it is not known whether or not religious groups will be satisfied with this act.

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