UPDATE: The Houston City Council today delayed a final vote on the proposed Equal Rights Ordinance for two weeks. We’ll keep you updated on news about the ordinance and how you can take action in support.

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At some point, you have to wonder whether the supposedly God-fearing activists on the religious right are capable of telling the truth about even basic things.

The most common and disgusting attack on Houston’s proposed Equal Rights Ordinance is the absurd claim that it will allow sexual predators into public restrooms. Now the Houston Area Pastor Council is also distorting the facts about Tuesday’s events surrounding the debate over the proposed ordinance.

Today the group sent out a press release that inaccurately claims “1,500 pastors, citizens and elected officials” rallied at City Hall against the proposed ordinance. That’s more than a little exaggeration. The crowd looked less than a third that size to us. In fact, the Houston Chronicle pegged it at around 300.

The same press release also suggested that Houston pastors were “united” in opposition. Not true. In fact, about 70 religious leaders from across Houston have signed on to an open letter sent to City Council on Tuesday supporting the ordinance. The… Read More

During public testimony before the Houston City Council on Tuesday, religious-right activists and spokespeople railed against the proposed Equal Rights Ordinance. The ordinance would protect Houstonians — regardless of race, gender, religion, military status and a long list of other characteristics — from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. But religious-right activists focused their opposition almost exclusively on nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people.

They denounced the LGBT community as “evil” while at the same time insisting that LGBT people don’t really face discrimination. And they bizarrely complained that the ordinance would discriminate against them if they couldn’t discriminate against people they don’t like. Many identified themselves as Christians and declared that the ordinance would limit their religious freedom — but churches are exempt and, in any case, we don’t recall Jesus turning away gay folks when he fed the multitudes.

But the most common themes in the attacks on the ordinance remain sex and fear. Opponents have suggested over and over that transgender “predators” will be stalking little girls in public restrooms if the City Council passes the ordinance. Some religious-right groups even call the ordinance the “Sexual Predator Protection Act.” Texas Values, lobby arm of the religious-right group Liberty Institute, builds on that theme by calling the ordinance “a threat to public safety.”

Texas Values also… Read More

When we saw the news about Houston Mayor Annise Parker (right) marrying her longtime partner, Kathy Hubbard (left), in California on Thursday, we braced for the avalanche of vitriol from angry right-wingers. We didn’t have to wait long.

This morning Dave Welch of the Houston Area Pastor Council (HAPC) launched a vicious personal attack on the couple and their relationship. From his press release:

“The sad reality is that Annise Parker believes this legitimizes her relationship, her lifestyle and her radical agenda to overturn our moral, civil and constitutional law. It does not, and her marriage is not recognized in this city or state.”

“From opening city restrooms to the gender confused to ignoring the city charter and state constitution, to cutting deals with strip club owners, etc., Parker has acted the tyrant in violation of her oath of office,”

“Just like President Obama, the rule of law and the concept that elected officials are subject to their oath of office to uphold the constitution are arcane relics of our republic that must be cast off for their progressive leadership. As did predecessors of their philosophy who have despised the… Read More

A Houston-based group whose executive director has made numerous incendiary statements about his city’s mayor, President Obama and others is hosting a prominent but discredited anti-Muslim hysteric at an event later this month.

The Houston Area Pastor Council (HAPC), which honored Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (who is running for governor this year) with its “Faithful Citizenship Award” at a fundraiser last March, will host Kamal Saleem at a Jan. 30 luncheon at Houston’s First Baptist Church. An email from the HAPC today doesn’t make the topic of Saleem’s discussion clear, but the subject line calls him a “former Muslim Brotherhood member.” The message goes on to describe Saleem as “born to a large Sunni Muslim family in the Middle East,” “recruited by the Muslim Brotherhood,” and who “completed his first mission to Israel at the age of seven.” It goes on:

“Kamal was also recruited by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (The PLO) and other radical Muslim groups. The many years of his radical Islamist training, resulted in Kamal mastering every form of divisive extremist tactics.”

Following injury in an automobile accident, the email says, Saleem “has since become a man on a new mission, as an Ambassador… Read More

Religious-right activists can’t be a happy lot today. The week started with the U.S. Senate voting Monday to short-circuit attempts to filibuster the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA), which would protect LGBT people from job discrimination. A Senate vote to pass ENDA is expected this week. Rick Scarborough of Texas-based Vision America denounced the Senate’s vote in a Tuesday email to his list:

“In practice, this means that Christians, observant Jews and others who don’t want to hire or promote people who flaunt dysfunctional sexuality will face government tyranny and ACLU lawsuits.  As already is the law in California, businesses that will not subsidize same-sex relationships will be denied government contracts. Beyond all this, the bill is flatly immoral. It means that government coercion will be used to encourage people to remain trapped in sinful behavior instead of seeking help to overcome it.  This makes the government an enemy of biblical morality.”

Also on Tuesday, voters rejected two stridently anti-gay and anti-abortion candidates, Ken Cuccinelli for governor and E.W. Jackson for lieutenant governor, in Virginia state elections. And today the Illinois General Assembly voted to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry in that state.

Religious-righters… Read More