TFN just sent the following message regarding today’s developments in the effort to repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.

Photo By Thomas B. Shea, for The Houston Chronicle

Today a state district judge set a trial date in January for a lawsuit filed by religious-right groups seeking a public election to repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO). That court date eliminates the possibility of a November public referendum to repeal the sweeping anti-discrimination measure. You can read more on today’s proceedings here.

The judge’s decision today came after HERO opponents asked the court to put the repeal referendum on the November ballot. The Houston city attorney said earlier this month that those opponents had not properly gathered enough petition signatures to put repeal up for a public vote.

We’ll continue to update you on any developments regarding HERO, and we’ll let you know of any opportunities to get involved to ensure that all Houstonians have equal rights.… Read More

TFN President Kathy Miller just sent out the following message regarding today’s announcement on the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO).

Moments ago the Houston city secretary announced that opponents of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) did not gather enough valid signatures to overturn the ordinance. Despite repeated boasts by leaders of the religious right (and an army of paid organizers), opponents of equality were only able to submit just over 15,000 valid signatures, leaving them more than a thousand short of the required minimum.

So what happens now?

Mayor Annise Parker has announced that implementation of the ordinance will be delayed, pending an anticipated legal challenge by opponents of the ordinance. So this is far from over.

But one thing that hasn’t changed: Houston is a city that doesn’t discriminate.

And whatever happens, the Texas Freedom Network will continue to stand with those who support equality and defend against any attempts to overturn the basic, common-sense protections HERO provides to all who live and work in Houston.… Read More

Dave Welch, head of the far-right Houston Area Pastor Council and one of the leading voices of anti-gay hate in Texas, is calling for “imprecatory prayers” as Houston officials review petition signatures from supporters of overturning the city’s new anti-discrimination ordinance.

Imprecatory prayers are those that ask God to burden, curse or even destroy wicked individuals and institutions. They typically are tied to the Bible’s imprecatory Psalms, such as Psalm 109:9 (“May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.”) and Psalm 137:9 (“How blessed will be the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.”).

In an article emailed to supporters over the weekend, Welch writes that city officials are nearly done determining whether there are enough valid petition signatures to put repeal of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance on the November ballot. He calls on repeal supporters to pray while city officials finish that work:

“PRAY – imprecatory prayers for the Lord to oversee every detail and every person involved, to expose any impropriety, to bind spiritual forces of darkness in the city and to send confusion into the enemy camp.”

We’ve seen more and more prominent religious-righters… Read More

Religious-right groups are, predictably, spitting venom over President Obama’s executive order barring discrimination against LGBT employees of the federal government and government contractors. The executive order, which the president announced on Monday, does not include an exemption allowing employers to discriminate for religious reasons.

The executive order did keep a provision from a 2002 executive order signed by President George W. Bush that allows religiously affiliated contractors to continue to give preference to workers of a certain religion. But religious-right groups also want employers to be able to fire or refuse to hire LGBT people and claim religious beliefs as the reason. (What about employers who have religious objections to women who work outside the home? Or white supremacists who base their hatred of racial minorities and Jews at least partly on their religious beliefs about what the Bible teaches?)

The executive order does not bar anti-LGBT discrimination by all employers — just by the government and contractors who do business with the government. A broader discrimination ban would require action by Congress. A weak anti-discrimination bill, the Employment Nondiscrimation Act (ENDA), has passed the Senate, but House Republicans have refused to take up the measure. A growing number of gay rights and civil libertiesRead More

TFN Insider is pleased to present this guest post from Rev. Michael Diaz, Director of Connections at Resurrection MCC Church in Houston. Rev. Diaz is a proud voice for social justice in his community for a host of issues, including equality for LGBTQ citizens.

Lunch with Liberty Counsel Rev. Michael Diaz

Religious-right propaganda distributed at the event by Liberty Counsel.

Late last Thursday I received an invitation to a “Who Will Stand?” pastors meeting at Grace Community Church in Houston hosted by Liberty Counsel. It was short notice but my interest was piqued by the speaker line-up: “Governor Mike Huckabee, self-taught historian David Barton, Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver, and many, many others.”

About 10 people were present, and maybe five were actual local church pastors with a few bringing their significant others. That’s right, only 10 people showed up in a room set up for 80 – with a catered lunch from Chick-fil-a boxes, of course! I must say the small turn-out surprised me, considering the build-up given to the event.

The speakers “appeared” on a 70-minute DVD designed to mobilize “Christians” to vote in November. Their main message centered upon the fact that churches… Read More