The mayor of the city of Houston is a woman named Annise Parker. Mayor Parker is gay. These are the only inescapable facts in this case.
The internet is abuzz with viral emails and social media messages about how Parker has subpoenaed the sermons of local Christian pastors because she passed a law outlawing saying anything publicly about homosexuality being wrong. While this work of fiction is based on a true story, the authors have definitely taken some liberties with the facts.
Mayor Parker passed a law in Houston that is anti-discrimination of all kinds, including those based on sexual orientation. The law specifically exempts religious institutions. Basically, the law couldn’t be more fair. Nevertheless, petitions with thousands upon thousands of signatures were quickly delivered asking for the law to be repealed. This caused several people to believe that local pastors had sort of a “signature drive ” by engaging churchgoers with their sermons that misrepresented the facts about the law. As part of the investigation into how these signatures were obtained, subpoenas were issued to obtain access to the preachers’ sermons.
Now Parker claims she had nothing to do with this and local lawyers gift involved leading to the subpoenas. That may be technically true, but no one with any sense in their head would believe that she wasn’t involved in it in some way, albeit behind the scenes. In any case, the subpoenas quickly got turned into a massive crackdown on Christianity and a grievous violation of the First Amendment. So who is right and who is wrong? Is this a sign of a raging war on Christianity or just a really belligerent lesbian who has found herself in a position of power?
Any reasonable person that actually read the law that Parker passed in its entirety would have a hard time figuring out what she’s so mad about. The law is remarkably fair and even specifically exempts religious institutions. In this way, there is no war on Christianity. However, pastors probably did make it sound that way to get signatures from their congregations. Why would they do this? They oppose anything Parker does, probably because she is a homosexual. However, deluding your congregations into thinking the law is against their interests is not illegal. In fact, your government and president engage in such behavior on a daily basis. So, it really doesn’t matter that much how they got all those signatures. Unless they were threatening people to get them to sign, it’s hardly illegal. The decision to subpoena the sermons was not a real viable legal strategy, but just a tactic to send a message and set off a pissing contest between Parker and Christians, Republicans versus Democrats, gays versus straights. You know, the usual act of bitterly dividing our country on the basis of hate but fueled by a new all-encompassing super-hate. Mayor Parker has already backed down from the subpoenas, you know, the ones she claimed originally that she had nothing to do with. That kind of says it all, doesn’t it?
It should be noted that instead of subpoenas, one excellent way to find out what the parks are pissing about would be to simply attend their services, which are free and completely open to the public. In fact, they actively encourage people to attend.