AUSTIN, July 28, 2015 (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Texas Supreme Court has issued a ruling against a local law allowing transgendered individuals to use the bathroom of their choice.
In May 2014, Houston's mayor Annise Parker signed into law the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), an ordinance allowing "transgender" individuals to use the public restrooms designated for whatever sex they sincerely perceived themselves to be, regardless of their biological sex.
According to the Houston Chronicle at the time:
The measure bans discrimination based not just on sexual orientation and gender identity but also, as federal laws do, sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, disability, pregnancy and genetic information, as well as family, marital or military status.
The ordinance applies to businesses that serve the public, private employers, housing, city employment and city contracting. Religious institutions would be exempt. Violators could be fined up to $5,000.
Within two months, Houstonians rallied against HERO as well as their mayor — the first openly lesbian mayor of a major American city. They began a petition to repeal the new law, or else put the option of repealing it on the ballot for a vote.
That petition was then delivered to the city with more than 50,000 signatures — except most of them were discounted by the mayor, and the final, official count was found as failing to fulfill the 17,269-signee requirement. "[M]ost of the pages contained mistakes that invalidated the entire page of signatures," according to the city.
Opponents of HERO suspected foul play, however, and formally sued over the rejection of their acquired signatures. Soon afterward is when the ordinance really hit national headlines, as Mayor Parker issued five subpoenas requesting copies of the sermons of some local Christian pastors who didn't like the ordinance.
Following a storm of backlash for this attempt to hamper free speech, Mayor Parker eventually dropped the subpoenas.
The overall battle continued to the Supreme Court of Texas, which released its decision Friday.
The Court ruled against Mayor Parker and the city, holding that if the city council doesn't repeal the ordinance by August 24 of this year, HERO will be decided by a popular vote during the city's next general election.
Until then, it cannot be enforced.