Society and Culture
Is Houston Mayor Annise Parker Violating First Amendment Rights?
I try not to spend a whole lot of time paying attention to the local news in Houston because it’s usually about someone getting killed or the meteorologist getting the weather wrong yet again. But I noticed a tweet from my local outlet about Houston’s mayor Annise Parker doing something crazy. That something crazy is subpoenaing pastors over their sermons.
I will be 100 percent honest and let you know that I am not fond of Mayor Parker. She drives me insane. Not because she is a Democrat or a lesbian but because her ideals of how to run this city are just bananas! (Sidenote: I do really hate how every news outlet constantly identifies Mayor Parker as the “first openly lesbian mayor of a major city.” I mean this with all do respect, but who gives a crap at this point!? She’s been mayor of Houston for four years — time to let that go. This is why we can never be seen as more than our gender and sexuality. Stop identifying people by these two labels — she is MAYOR ANNISE PARKER! What does her sexual preference have to do with running this city? Absolutely nothing! Off my soap box.)
The city’s Equal Rights Ordinance was voted on back in May and is now being challenged for various reasons. The ordinance included a “bathroom” clause that was eventually dropped, which regulated which bathrooms a transgender person could use. Over the summer, opponents of the ordinance delivered 50,000 signatures for repeal— nearly triple the minimum necessary number of 17,269. In this case, good ol’ Mayor Parker — champion of the ordinance — has decided to take away the First Amendment rights of pastors in Houston by subpoenaing the sermons and other communications of pastors who opposed the ordinance and collected signatures in church.
The subpoenas sought “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO (Houston Equal Rights Ordinance), the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession,” according to the Houston Chronicle.
Churches and pastors are specifically protected in their speech and religious practice under the First Amendment. So why does Mayor Parker and her cronies think it was okay to subpoena their sermons? Let’s just start to chip away at the constitution a little bit at a time until we have no more rights. Who needs rights or to be protected by the law anyway?
I certainly do love how Mayor Parker and City Attorney Dave Feldman have started to back track on everything since the subpoenas were issued on Monday; they are now claiming that they have realized that the subpoenas were too broad. Too broad? You basically want to see everything that is being said about you and stripping away the rights of fellow Houstonians. It’s like the popular girl in high school finding out someone doesn’t agree with her and then demanding to find out everything that is being said behind her back. Grow up! Not even two days after the subpoenas were issued Mr. Feldman received criticism from Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott stating that the subpoenas needed to be withdrawn immediately. Hmmm. City attorney versus Attorney General of the State of Texas. Who do you think has more clout?
Mayor Parker needs to set aside her own personal agenda and do what’s right for the whole city and maybe take into account the reason why she is in the position she is in. Wouldn’t it make sense to know about the laws and the Constitution before trying to get your way? You just made yourself look like a fool, Annise.