A state district judge on Friday tossed
out a challenge to Houston officials' decision to reject a citizen's
petition calling for a public vote on an LGBT protections ordinance
because it had failed to gather enough valid signatures.
After city officials rejected the
petition – saying it was laden with forgery and errors –
opponents of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) filed a
lawsuit claiming that the city had illegally thrown out their
“[A]fter applying all of the findings
of the Jury and the rulings of the Court, the Court enters this Final
Judgment in favor of the Defendants, as the final tally of valid
signatures on the Referendum Petition is 16,684 which does not exceed
the minimum number of required signatures,” Texas District Judge
Robert Schaffer wrote. “The Court therefore finds as a matter of
fact and as a matter of law that the Referendum Petition is not valid
or enforceable in all respects.”
According to a city spokeswoman, the
law, on hold during the trial, is now in effect.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker strongly
backed passage of HERO.
“I would hope that the plaintiffs
would not appeal. They lost during a jury trial and today they also
lost with the judge's ruling,” Parker
said. “Now all Houstonians have access to the same
Opponents, however, vowed to continue
“We intend to appeal and are
confident the higher courts will agree that good handwriting is not a
valid reason to deny citizens of their constitutional rights to
vote,” said Andy Taylor, attorney for the plaintiffs.
The Houston City Council approved the
ordinance last year after an 11-hour marathon debate. HERO prohibits
discrimination in the workplace, housing and public accommodations on
the basis of several factors including sexual orientation and gender