Religious Freedom, Free Speech Threatened by Houston’s LGBT Ordinance
Proposed Ordinance is a Threat to Christians, Private Sector in Houston
Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who is an open lesbian, has announced a proposed wide-reaching LGBT ordinance that she plans to fast track into law within the next two weeks. This special rights ordinance is a direct threat to people of faith and traditional morality in the City of Houston. The ordinance would give government new power to force private individuals and businesses to affirm homosexual conduct and actual or perceived “gender identity” or face serious criminal penalties.
All legitimate anti-discrimination protections, including race, color, national origin, sex, and religion are already protected in state and federal law. The reality is that this ordinance will only serve to specifically impose “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected classes onto the private sector of Houston, while centralizing the power of investigation, fines (up to $500/day), and punishment under the Mayor.
The ordinance, much like San Antonio’s controversial anti-Christian ordinance, is a direct threat to any person in Houston that holds a biblical or traditional view of marriage or sexuality, whether in government or in business. Here is an analysis of just a few of the serious problems with the ordinance:
The ordinance would force employers and a private business owner to violate their religious and moral convictions. It subjects individuals to criminal prosecution for refusing to participate in the celebration of the homosexual lifestyle because of their religious beliefs or conviction of conscience. A similar law in New Mexico was used to force a Christian Photographer to use her gifts and talents to affirm and participate in a same-sex ‘commitment ceremony’ that she disagreed with or face punishment by the state.
The ordinance falsely equates race with sexual conduct. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars discrimination based on race (and color, national origin, sex, and religion). It is disingenuous to attempt to hijack the Civil Rights movement by comparing an inborn, involuntary, and immutable trait with sexual conduct or transgender behavior. The U.S Supreme has declined to subject classifications based on “sexual orientation” to the “strict scrutiny” legal standard that applies to race.
The ordinance will allow men access to women’s bathrooms, shower rooms, and locker rooms. The proposed ordinance requires Houston businesses to make all women’s bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms available to all who are dressed in female attire, without regard to biological sex. This will place women and children at risk.
The ordinance increases government interference in the private sector. It would essentially substitute the judgment of Lesbian Mayor Parker for that of the employer regarding what qualities or characteristics are most relevant to a particular job. Houston businesses could be forced under penalty of law to hire people that openly promote behavior that is contrary to their religious convictions.
The ordinance is declared a “public emergency” while providing no evidence of any systemic discrimination. The mayor is seeking to shut out the public in the process, asking that the ordinance “be passed finally on the date of its introduction.” There is no evidence of a need for this sweeping ordinance, and it is clear the mayor does not want the ordinance to be properly vetted.
It is reported that the ordinance will be presented to the City Council’s Quality of Life Committee on April 30 and for consideration by the full council on May 7. If approved, the ordinance would go into effect immediately.
Texas Values will be watching this issue closely in Houston, coordinating with local leaders and pastors, and educating the people of Houston on the numerous problems of the ordinance.