Conservative pastors in Houston complain that the city is trampling on religious freedoms in the battle over a controversial equal-rights ordinance introduced earlier this year. The city's lawyers have subpoenaed several high-profile pastors opposed to the law, seeking, among other things, "all speeches, presentations, or sermons" related to the law, homosexuality, and openly gay Mayor Annise Parker, reports the Houston Chronicle. The law's opponents are suing the city, claiming that it was wrong to determine that an effort to force a repeal referendum didn't gather enough signatures.
Plaintiffs call the move "harassment" and a violation of First Amendment rights. "For a city government to step into churches and ask pastors to turn in sermons, it's gone too far. This is not what America, the nation is about," one pastor who received a subpoena tells KTRK. But a city attorney says that since some of the signatures on the repeal petition were gathered at churches, the sermons are part of the case. "If they choose to do this inside the church, choose to do this from the pulpit, then they open the door to the questions being asked," he says. (More Houston stories.)