A judge has refused to block a recall election to remove three El Paso, Texas elected officials who backed gay rights, the AP reported.

Pastor Tom Brown of the Word of Life Church is leading the effort to oust El Paso Mayor John Cook and two City Council members, Steve Ortega and Susie Byrd, because they supported giving health insurance benefits to the unmarried domestic partners of city workers.

In his legal challenge, Cook claimed that Brown had violated state election law by using church resources to collect signatures for the recall petition.

While Brown and his supporters have used anti-gay sentiment in their campaign, The New York Times reported that only 2 of the 19 city employees in domestic partnerships who received the benefit are gay.

The battle began in 2009, when the Council approved the benefit for the unmarried domestic partners of city employees. Opponents, led by Brown, forced a voter referendum, which was approved with 55 percent of the vote last November.

In June, the Council restored the insurance benefit. An outraged Brown countered with an effort to recall the mayor and two council members. (The terms of two other members who voted for the ordinance have already ended.)

The recall election takes place on April 14.

Brown told the Times that the officials should be removed because they “want to reward fornicators, and they want to reward homosexuals.”