Pastors challenge city subpoenas on sermons in equal rights case

Houston city attorneys subpoenaed sermons given by local pastors who oppose the city's equal rights ordinance. The pastors who have dragged the city to court over the issue are tied to the conservative Christian activists.

Opponents of the controversial ordinance are expecting a repeal referendum when they get their day in court in January next year. They have been claiming that City Attorney David Feldman is wrong in determining that they hadn't collected enough signatures to meet the criteria for the ballot.

Issued last month as part of the case's discovery phase, subpoenas include all sorts of communications like speeches, presentations, and sermons related to HERO.

The subpoenas were issued to pastors and religious leaders who had been openly opposing the equal rights ordinance, viz. Dave Welch, Khanh Huynh, Hernan Castano, Magda Hermida and Steve Riggle.

Jared Woodfill, a former chairperson of the Harris County Republican Party, argued that the subpoenas encroached on protected religious freedoms of pastors.

Condemning the subpoenas, Woodfill said, "This is the city trampling on the First Amendment rights of pastors in their churches."

The Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal organization that opened defended gay marriage bans, filed a motion on Monday on behalf of the pastors seeking a court order to overturn the subpoenas.