Texas Attorney General asks Houston to withdraw subpoenas issued to pastors

Subpoenas issued to five Houston pastors by City Attorney David Feldman's office last month were a direct assault on the religious liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said.

The city attorney's office issued subpoenas to pastors demanding them to turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality and gender identity issues. Annise Parker, the city's first openly lesbian mayor, also supported the subpoenas.

Abbott described the controversial subpoenas as "aggressive and invasive" action by the city. He asked the city authorities to immediately withdraw the subpoenas.

In his harshly-worded letter written to Feldman, Abbott said, "Whether you intend it to be so or not, your action is a direct assault on the religious liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment. You should immediately instruct your lawyers to withdraw the city's subpoenas."

Late Wednesday, the city claimed that Mayor Parker and City attorney Feldman were unaware of the subpoenas until the previous day. Both also agreed that the original documents were excessively broad, and assured the city would move to narrow the scope of the documents during an upcoming court hearing.

Issued in a response to a lawsuit related to Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), the controversial subpoenas came to light a few days back when attorneys for the pastors filed a motion to quash the subpoenas.