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Pastors and republican activists rally against Houston Equal Rights Ordinance

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Religious conservatives say new ordinance impacts 1st Amendmnt fretdom of religion at rally outside Houston City Hall May 13 2014
Religious conservatives say new ordinance impacts 1st Amendmnt fretdom of religion at rally outside Houston City Hall May 13 2014
Marc Pembroke
Protestor suggests First Amendment rights are "dead" at rally against Houston Equal rights ordinance May 13 2014
photo by Marc Pembroke

On Tuesday May 13, Shortly following Mayor Parker's press conference announcing support of the Greater Houston Partnership for the proposed new Equal Rights Ordinance in the rotunda of City Hall, opponents rallied outside to voice their objections and prepare to speak at the afternoon City Council meeting. The group included at least two dozen pastors including Latino and Vietnamese communities and church members, outgoing Harris County Republican Party Chair Jarod Woodfill, Republican Senate District Executive Committeewoman Bonnie Lugo, Texas Values Action, the chairman of the Houston NAACP, and Texas. Ms. Lugo stated that she spoke as an individual and on behalf of the David Dewhurst for Lieutenant Governor campaign.

Hundreds signed up to speak at the Council meeting, and testimony continued to nearly 9:00 PM. Most of the opponents affirmed their faith in the Bible. Most frequently, they refer to teachings on the creation of man as male and female. Others frequently cited the first chapter of Paul's epistle to the Romans, which summarizes the status of humanity stating that those who refuse to worship the true God turn to idols and false gods, then darken their minds with confusion and commit a range of sins, including homosexual conduct, and the approval of such relationships. Other passages include severe punishments for homosexual relationships in the Mosaic law (Lev 18:22 and 20:13) and exclusion from heaven in the New Testament (I Cor 6:9-10 and I Tim 1:9-11). In general, pastors and lay persons objected to the ordinance because it goes beyond the federal and state protections for discrimination based on race, age, and gender, and protects behaviors that are condemned in the Scriptures, subjecting Christians to potential fines if they manifest their agreement with the Bible.

Most, like Belinda Cucharez also expressed concerns about a controversial provision on the right of trans-gender individuals to use public restrooms of their choice. Speaking in Spanish, Mrs. Josie Hernandez said that she worried about what the ordinanc would mean for her granddaughters. The provision was the subject of several amendments, submitted for consideration at the Wednesday City Council meeting. The Council voted to remove the provision, and the matter was delayed to the next City Council meeting on May 28th because of a previously scheduled break on May 21st.

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