The Texas Supreme Court suspended the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, giving Houston 30 days to repeal the ordinance with it ridiculous rules on public bathrooms or place it before voters in November.
Texas Equal Rights Ordinance, dubbed the “bathroom bill” allowed transgender residents to choose whatever public bathroom they were comfortable using.
The Mayor and city of Houston caused a national outcry with subpoenas of 5 local pastor sermons and other documents. The Texas Supreme Court threw out the ordinance as the the city secretary originally verified a petition to place a measure on the ballet to repeal the ordinance. The Houston mayor and city attorney ran afoul of the city charter when they rejected the certification.
“We agree … that the City Secretary certified their petition and thereby invoked the City Council’s ministerial duty to reconsider and repeal the ordinance or submit it to popular vote,” the opinion read. “The legislative power reserved to the people of Houston is not being honored.”
“Obviously, I am disappointed and believe the court is in error with this 11th-hour ruling in a case that had already been decided by a judge and jury of citizens,” said Ms. Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor, in a Friday statement.
“Nonetheless, we will proceed with the steps necessary for City Council to consider the issue. At the same time, we are consulting with our outside counsel on any possible available legal actions,” she said.
The city has until Aug. 24 to act on the court’s order, which also suspended the equal-rights ordinance, raising the possibility of a ballot fight that could sway the outcome of the November mayor’s race. Ms. Parker is term-limited and cannot seek re-election.
The ordinance, approved by the city council in May 2014, added gender identity and sexual orientation to the city’s equal-rights law, touching off a backlash over transgender bathroom use.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott praised the court’s decision Friday, saying that, “Freedom of expression can only exist once government removes itself from stifling free speech, repressing religious liberty and interfering with the lives of its citizens.”
“Today’s decision by the Texas Supreme Court appropriately returns jurisdiction over this matter to voters while reassuring the people of Houston that their personal values remain beyond the reach of government,” said the Republican governor in a statement.
Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, which defended the pastors, said Friday that the court “has rightly rectified this wrong.”
“Public officials should not be allowed to run roughshod over the right of the people to decide these types of issues, especially when the citizens of Houston clearly met all the qualifications for having their voice heard,” Mr. Stanley said in a statement. WashingtonTimes