The city of Houston is likely to put an
LGBT protection ordinance up for a public vote after a ruling Friday
by the Texas Supreme Court.
The court ruled that Houston City
Council must repeal the ordinance or place it on the November ballot.
After city officials rejected a
petition to put the ordinance up to a public vote – 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 state district judge agreed with the
city, saying that opponents had failed to gather sufficient
signatures. Opponents appealed to the state's highest court.
“We agree with the Relators that the
City Secretary certified their petition and thereby invoked the City
Council's ministerial duty to reconsider and repeal the ordinance or
submit it to popular vote,” the Texas Supreme Court wrote. “The
legislative power reserved to the people of Houston is not being
Mayor Annise Parker and then-City
Attorney David Feldman overrode City Secretary Anna Russell's
determination that opponents had collected enough signatures to force
a referendum on the ordinance. Feldman's staff said that many of the
valid signatures were on invalid petition pages.
Parker said that she was “disappointed”
with the ruling but certain Houston voters would uphold HERO.
“No matter the color of your skin,
your age, gender, physical limitations, or sexual orientation, every
Houstonian deserves the right to be treated equally,” Parker said.
“To do otherwise, hurts Houston's well-known image as a city that
is tolerant, accepting, inclusive and embracing of its diversity. Our
citizens fully support and understand this and I have never been
afraid to take it to the voters. We will win!”
As recent as 2001, Houston voters
rejected a gay rights measure.