Houston: Still Haunted by the Passed

It may be Halloween, but even Mayor Annise Parker can’t mask her real agenda. The Houston leader couldn’t have been clearer yesterday that while she may have withdrawn the churches’ subpoenas, she has no intention of withdrawing from the battle over fundamental democracy.

Remember, this whole saga began when the Mayor pushed a bad special rights ordinance, which morphed into a voting rights violation when she discarded over 30,000 signed citizen petitions. From there, it mushroomed into an attack on the First Amendment, and pastors started to challenge her totalitarian rule. “I didn’t do this to satisfy them,” an indignant Parker said. “I did it because it was not serving Houston.”

While we’d like to think yesterday’s move was the result of the Mayor’s changed heart, it’s more likely the result of overwhelming public pressure. No doubt the Mayor would like the national scrutiny to go away, but as long as she continues to use her power to intimidate voters, the spotlight will remain.

“I don’t want to have a national debate about freedom of religion when my whole purpose is to defend a strong and wonderful and appropriate city ordinance against local attack, and by taking this step today we remove that discussion about freedom of religion.” If the Mayor wants to remove the distraction of the subpoenas and put the spotlight on the bill, that’s fine with us. In fact, she may be doing the entire debate a favor. Because in the end, it’s the ordinance — and the invalidation of the petitions to overturn it — that should outrage people. The subpoenas were just a symptom of a deeper problem in Houston: political intimidation.

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For now, Parker explains, the focus is on protecting her proposal. “We are going to continue to vigorously defend our ordinance against repeal efforts.” Even if it means trampling the entire democratic process to do it. “People should have the right to have this on the ballot and vote for it,” Dave Welch told reporters — which is exactly what they lost when the city invalidated a record number of petitions for reasons people still don’t understand.

With the circus of the subpoenas out of the way, the country can start focusing on the real problem: the sexual tyranny that comes with redefining marriage. As far as the five pastors targeted by Parker are concerned, pulling the subpoenas makes room for the real debate over religious liberty. This week, the five released a joint statement about their intent to fight on. “If and when she withdraws these subpoenas does nothing to mitigate her willingness to trash the Constitution for her own agenda and covering up her crime of stealing our right to vote.”

Their attorney, Andy Taylor, is happy to bring the media’s attention back to the lawsuit at hand. “The truth is, she’s using this litigation to try to squelch the voting rights of over a million well-intentioned voters here in the city of Houston,” Taylor pointed out. “It’s very simple why we filed a lawsuit: Because they won’t do what the city constitutional charter requires them to do.”

That arrogance and abuse of power is what’s driving this new momentum. Even after the Mayor’s press conference, FRC was still being flooded by sign-ups for I Stand Sunday — with more than 500 churches and 2,500 home groups registered from 49 states. Together, we’ll send the message that we will stand united in defending our religious liberty and our Christian faith. Join us, this Sunday at 6:00 p.m. (CT), and support cities across the country who are dealing with ordinances just like Houston’s — that all threaten to destroy the most fundamental freedoms of America.

Report via FRCAction.org

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

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