Hot Air is reporting the following today:
Houston’s embattled equal rights ordinance took another legal turn this week when it surfaced that city attorneys, in an unusual step, subpoenaed sermons given by local pastors who oppose the law and are tied to the conservative Christian activists that have sued the city.
Opponents of the equal rights ordinance are hoping to force a repeal referendum when they get their day in court in January, claiming City Attorney David Feldman wrongly determined they had not gathered enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. City attorneys issued subpoenas last month during the case’s discovery phase, seeking, among other communications, “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”
The article further reports:
The subpoenas for any electoral activity might be legally acceptable, since churches have a tax exemption — but that is generally a state and federal issue, not a municipal distinction. The demand to produce any comments regarding “homosexuality or gender identity” go straight to the heart of the First Amendment and on government censorship. The intent to intimidate Christian pastors into silence on these issues could not be clearer, and uses the threat of government action to back up that intimidation.
There are two issues here that I think are important. The first is that the ‘rights’ of homosexuals and other gender identity groups are usurping the First Amendment right of free speech and the free exercise of religion. The other issue here is that this ‘equal rights’ ordinance will eventually be used to declare Biblical truth as ‘hate speech’ and silence pastors preaching from the Bible in that way. In both cases, America loses.
I do not condone discrimination, but I do think everyone in the marketplace should be able to make their own decisions about who they do business with. A car dealership has the right to turn away a customer because the customer cannot afford to buy a car from that dealership. Doesn’t a business owner have a similar choice if someone is asking him to do something that violates his conscience? If a venue chooses not to be available for a homosexual wedding because the owner holds the Biblical view on homosexuality, should that vendor be asked to compromise his religious beliefs? Couldn’t the couple involved simply choose another venue? Again, I am not against homosexual rights–I just don’t want to see homosexual rights used as a vehicle to destroy the First Amendment rights of all Americans.