I’m a bit late getting into this tussle, but Houston city officials did the right thing in backing away from an effort to get some local pastors to turn over their sermon notes regarding their opposition to some gay-rights matters.
What we had going, of course, was a serious infringement on some First Amendment guarantees of free speech, freedom of religion and the right to practice both without government interference.
The city and its openly gay mayor, Annise Parker, had subpoenaed the pastors, who had expressed opposition to a law that banned discrimination against gays and lesbians. Conservatives got riled over the demand. Indeed, the fight seemed unnecessary.
According to the Texas Tribune: The subpoenas, sent to some outspoken pastors and religious leaders who had opposed the ordinance, had asked for ‘all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.’”
That looks for all the world to me like a dose of City Hall bullying of pastors who were speaking from their heart about a critical public issue.
HERO is an acronym that Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, which expanded rights for gays and lesbians. I would support such an ordinance if I lived in Houston. However, I honor the Constitution of the United States enough to know that it grants equal rights to those who oppose such an ordinance.
Parker has backed off. Good for her. As President Gerald Ford said at the end of a grave political crisis in August 1974, “The Constitution works.”