Parker blasts new HERO lawsuit as political stunt

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Mayor Annise Parker slammed a lawsuit filed Monday by HERO opponents, who took their victory lap through the courts just days after a Texas Supreme Court decision forcing the ordinance to be repealed or put to a public vote.

Parker said opponents of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance threaten to hurt the city's image as an “open and inclusive atmosphere.”

This new lawsuit is not about civil rights or religious freedom.  It’s about politics. It is being waged by a small group that wants to take Houston backward instead of moving it forward.  I respect the pastors' right to use our legal process how they see fit, but their energy would be better invested in making sure Houston remains a welcoming, inclusive city that does not discriminate.  Houston simply isn’t the City it was 20 or 30 years ago.  We are a diverse mixture of residents who get along and are accepting of each other’s differences.  It is this open and inclusive atmosphere that helps make Houston attractive to new residents, new business, major sporting events like the Super Bowl and more.  The ongoing effort by this group threatens to hurt that image and our progress.

The Houston Area Pastor Council sued Parker for legal fees and damages related to a lawsuit filed last summer over the LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance. That lawsuit resulted in the July 24 decision from the state Supreme Court stopping enforcement of the ordinance and ordering the City Council to repeal it or put it on the November ballot.

HERO opponents announced the lawsuit during a press conference on Monday. Via the Houston Chronicle:

Attorney Andy Taylor would not specify an amount at a press conference Monday morning, but said the legal work associated with case was close to $500,000. The suit has been filed in Harris County district court.

The lawsuit also seeks damages for Parker's aborted attempt to subpoena the sermons of five pastors who preached against HERO. Three of those pastors – Hernan Castano, Magda Hermida and Khanh Huynh – are plaintiffs in the suit. Dave Welch, another of the five pastors, blasted Parker in a statement about the latest lawsuit, according to KTRK.

In a statement released this evening by Rev Dave Welch, of the No Unequal Rights group, he writes, “The Mayor of Houston violated the law, attempted to use raw intimidation and trampled on the rights of one million Houston citizens.”

Taylor also offered up pointed criticism of the mayor. Via the Chronicle:

“She trampled the voting rights of over a million people in the fourth largest city in the United States of America,” Taylor said. “And so we're here today to say 'uh uh,' there's going to be accountability for doing that. We are not going to sit idly by and let you do that.”

Can't wait until these HERO opponents go on tour next week.

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