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 petition.

“[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 protections.”

Opponents, however, vowed to continue their fight.

“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 identity.