I admit I am a little bit uncomfortable about the City of H-Town issuing subpoenas to try to get church sermons from some of the anti-HERO clergy. Is this necessary? I just kind of think that you give the other side some ammo in the fight for public opinion. It is one thing for an individual or private entity to take this route, but a city? Has this ever been done in our City’s history?
I just kind of think that we need to stay on the high road and not give up any ground. I wonder if any members of City Council will mention the subpoenas this morning at City Hall. I wonder if the Texas Freedom Network has a take on this. Stay tuned!
Here is a bit from the Chron:
Houston’s embattled equal rights ordinance took another legal turn this week when it surfaced that city attorneys, in an unusual step, subpoenaed sermons given by local pastors who oppose the law and are tied to the conservative Christian activists who have sued the city.
Opponents of the equal rights ordinance are hoping to force a repeal referendum when they get their day in court in January, claiming City Attorney David Feldman wrongly determined they had not gathered enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.
City attorneys issued subpoenas last month as part of the case’s discovery phase, seeking, among other communications, “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”
The subpoenas were issued to pastors and religious leaders who have been vocal in opposing the ordinance: Dave Welch, Hernan Castano, Magda Hermida, Khanh Huynh and Steve Riggle. The Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal organization known for its role in defending same-sex marriage bans, filed a motion Monday on behalf of the pastors seeking to quash the subpoenas, and in a press announcement called it a “witch hunt.”
The city’s lawyers will face a high bar for proving the information in the sermons is essential to their case, said Charles Rhodes, a South Texas College of Law professor. The pastors are not named parties in the suit, and the “Church Autonomy Doctrine” offers fairly broad protections for internal church deliberations, he said.
Calling it an “unusual but not unprecedented” subpoena request, Rhodes said the city would stand a better chance of getting the sermons if it were a criminal case in which the message or directive in the sermons prompted a specific criminal action.
Still, he said, the city likely will get a boost because many of the sermons are broadcast or recorded and are intended to be shared with the public.
“This is unusual to see it come up in a pure political controversy,” Rhodes said. “The city is going to have to prove there is something very particular in the sermons that does not come up anywhere else.”
To that end, Feldman said the pastors made their sermons relevant to the case by using the pulpit to do political organizing. That included encouraging congregation members to sign petitions and help gather signatures for equal rights ordinance foes, who largely take issue with the rights extended to gay and transgender residents.
Like I said, I don’t like the smell of this. Oh well!
KC is one win away from returning to the World Serious. They last played in the Serious in 1985 when they beat San Luis in seven. Name the 1985 World Serious MVP.
The Chron E-Board today endorsed three GOPers for the Court of Appeals. Check out the endorsements here: http://www.chron.com/opinion/recommendations/article/Courts-of-Appeals-5822853.php.
The E-Board also endorsed the GOP candidate for Railroad Commissioner. Check it out here: http://www.chron.com/opinion/editorials/article/For-Railroad-commission-5822854.php.
KC pitcher Bret Saberhagen of course won the 1985 World Serious MVP Award.
KC could wrap up the AL Pennant early this evening and we may have to wait until Sunday night to get an NLCS Champ.