As red-states go, Texas is about as red as they come. Much of that is based on their fiercely bred sense of independence and fondness for personal freedom. It’s not my favorite place for reasons more personal than political, but I admire it greatly. I love Shiner Bock. I love Tex-Mex cuisine. I love the state’s rich history. I loathe the weather.
I predict that the state will lean more blue in time. Maybe not fully blue, but more blue. The immigrant population will grow and cities will swell. Even California would be a red-state if were it not for her largest cities. They make up the vast majority of the population, so it’s irrelevant.
Clear evidence of this Texan transformation is underway in, of all places, Houston. Houston. Had you told me that when I was a resident of that state many years ago, I would have looked at you like you had a horn growing from your forehead. As it turns out, the time of unicorns and rainbows is upon us.
In June of this year, the City Council, spearheaded by openly gay Mayor Annise Parker, passed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. I read it for you. Do you see how much I care? Go there if you’d like, but be warned. It’s mostly legalese. It is not, however, a terribly offensive document. As they do, opponents seized on an inflammatory part of the law that allows humans to decide which restroom (male or female) to use based on the gender with which they most readily identify. I suppose that could make for some awkward moments. I don’t much care. I’ve seen plenty of women in men’s restrooms, if only because the line for the women’s restroom was too long. The emotional argument against this particular passage is that a man could go into the women’s restroom and justify it by saying he feels like a woman that day. I might exercise that right just to unlock the shackles on the female conundrum via careful eavesdropping. What?! When she says the word “fine”, she doesn’t actually mean it’s fine? Sumbiscuit. And here I thought she was totally cool with my four-day Vegas golf trip with the boys.
Houston is not just the home of a recent progressive movement. It is also the home of the mega-church. The Lakewood Church alone has 43,500 weekly attendees. Yes, you read that correctly. No, I didn’t add any zeros. These churches can mobilize folks in a hurry, which is exactly what they did. To place a referendum on the ballot to propose repeal of this (or any) ordinance, the city of Houston requires a petition with 17,269 signatures. That is not an arbitrary number. It represents 10-percent of those who voted during the most recent mayoral election. The champions of HERO opposition got 50,000 signatures, some 40,000 of which were tossed aside by the city because of irregularity in the documentation. How convenient.
Shots fired in both directions. The skirmish is on. The city of Houston escalates the conflict.
The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court.
Perhaps the mayor is so principled that she doesn’t care about re-election. If not, she better enjoy her time in the seat. You never give your adversary a cause around which he can rally.
There are a great many distractors here. Don’t be like the American public at-large and fall for them. Any of them. Freedom of Religion. Freedom of Speech. States’ rights. Transgender equality. Tax-exempt status of churches. Don’t get me wrong. These are important matters one and all, but as they pertain to the issuance of subpoenas, they are noise, and they divert attention from this latest tactic. I implore you to see this tactic for what it is – government bullying. Nothing more, nothing less. You don’t issue a subpoena because you want to make sure all relevant information is on the table. You issue a subpoena to intimidate, indict, or both. The city’s message could not be more clear. You have to tolerate me, what I say, and how I live. The opposite is not true.
If the mayor and her thought police really want to know what is happening in area churches, all they have to do is grab a cup of coffee on Sunday morning and watch a live internet feed. They can also download most of the sermons from church websites. Better yet, maybe they could get off their collective arses and plop them in a pew. The hardest part will be finding a place to park.
Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s right. Just because something is right doesn’t mean it’s fair. And if you want to be fair, be consistent in your fairness. If you want to be consistent, subpoena the sermons from all Houston area mosques. When you do, set your watch and tell me how long it takes for the ACLU to arrive with Hollywood celebrities in tow.
Photo Credit: Dallas Observer