- - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Applying the name of “marriage” to homosexual unions is said by the lavender lobby to be an issue of equal rights. However, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act last year, the left began applying pressure on those who hold to traditional values, betraying a mindless intolerance of anyone who disagrees.

In an exercise beginning with witless ignorance, the city of Houston served pastors with subpoenas ordering them to submit their Sunday sermons and other communications for government approval. So much for the First Amendment, the basic guarantee of separation of church and state.

Earlier this year, Mayor Annise D. Parker, a lesbian, pushed the city to adopt an “equal rights” ordinance to strike all barriers between the sexes, even allowing men in the ladies’ room (and vice versa). Outraged Houstonians submitted 50,000 signatures on a petition to enable residents to decide at the ballot box whether this was right for Houston. This was more than double the number of required signatures, but the city attorney invented excuses to block a public vote. Supporters of the initiative sued.

Bureaucrats never respond well to challenges by common folk, and Mayor Parker’s minions lashed out with particular spite, imagining that the threat of prosecution would make the pastors afraid to say what God and conscience lead them to say in their pulpits.

The Rev. Steve Riggle, pastor of Grace Community Church, was told he would face criminal sanction unless he handed over “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to [the restroom ordinance], the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”

He was told to hand over every email and text message he had sent to petition circulators or to lawyers for the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is seeking to overturn the subpoena. The demands raise the potential for invading the most intimate privacy of the faithful, whose emails seeking spiritual advice and the consolations of faith could be read by the mayor.

“The city’s subpoena of sermons and other pastoral communications is both needless and unprecedented,” says Christiana Holcomb, an Alliance counsel. “The City Council and its attorneys are engaging in an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of its actions. Political and social commentary is not a crime; it is protected by the First Amendment.”

Mayor Parker has walked down the dark side before. Addicted to the millions generated by red-light revenue cameras, she colluded with a photo-ticketing vendor four years ago to block a referendum on the cameras. She lost the vote, and the cameras were thrown out.

Mayor Parker still hasn’t learned her lesson. Bullying and intimidating in the name of tolerance and equal rights won’t fly any higher in a court of law than it does in the court of public opinion.

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