Today, the Texas Supreme Court suspended Houston’s equal rights ordinance (HERO). The court’s opinion stated, “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.”
HERO was Mayor Annise Parker’s defining and controversial law pushed through during her tenure amidst public backlash. The mayor stopped at nothing to maintain its status. Parker and her city bureaucrats even went as far as to subpoena communications from local religious leaders who voiced opposition to the law.
The opinion goes on to say, “If Houston voters are to consider the ordinance at the City’s general election this year, then no later than August 24, 2015, the City Council should order that it be put up for election,” giving them 30 days to file. “The Texas Supreme Court got it right on this one,” said Texas Values Action President, Jonathan Saenz.
Gov. Greg Abbott applauded the decision saying, “Today’s decision by the Texas Supreme Court appropriately returns jurisdiction over this matter to voters.”
Opponents have long fought to have HERO decided by Houston residents. After collecting signatures to repeal the ordinance via a ballot referendum, their petition was deemed invalid by city attorneys, despite being certified by the City Secretary. The petitioners then sued to fight the government’s disregard for the will of the voters. Most recently, local activists led by Dave Wilson submitted an entirely new petition, which also required signatures from registered voters.
In a statement, Saenz went on to say, “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.”
Although many mistakenly assumed the HERO battle was settled, the recent court order is likely to energize voters battling Parker’s belligerent administration in Houston. There is no doubt the mayor will use any political capital left during her term’s remaining six months to campaign hard to ensure that voters uphold HERO and her practice of religious persecution.