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Voters Reject Houston LGBT Ordinance by Wide Margin

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Residents in Houston have soundly rejected an LGBT ordinance that would have trampled on religious liberty and allowed men in women's bathrooms, with more than 60 percent voting no.

"It's one of those moments in time where you say, enough is enough is enough," Dr. Ed Young, senior pastor at Second Baptist Church in Houston, said.

A diverse coalition of city pastors opposed the ordinance.  Its non-discrimination language on gender identity would have allowed men in women's bathrooms. 

 Ryan Anderson discusses the Houston transgender bathrooms vote.

Houston's LGBT ordinance would have allowed men identifying as women to use women's restrooms and other public facilities. Click here to read how similar laws have endangered women in other states.

Equally concerning was what it would have meant for Christian business owners opposed to same-sex marriage.

"That baker's going to have to bake a cake for that same-sex couple," First Amendment scholar and University of Illinois law professor Robin Fretwell-Wilson told CBN News.

"We're talking about an ordinance that will criminalize, will put someone in jail or force them to lose a business just because of their faith." Hernan Castano, senior pastor at Rivers of Oil Church, said.

Hear from Houston Pastor David Welch, with the Houston Area Pastors Council, as to why this vote was strategic in the fight for religious liberty.  Click here.

Local pastors have fought the ordinance for more than 18 months.  When the City Council first approved it, clergy organized a signature drive to put it on the ballot. 

Lesbian Mayor Annise Parker's administration then declared the signatures invalid, and subpoenaed their sermons when they sued the city.

Jonathan Saenz brings his perspective on the defeat of the transgender bathrooms ordinance in Houston.

"Every battle was like the intention of the City Hall just to quiet the people's voice down and intimidate and show themselves to be the strongest, most powerful force in the city," Castano said.
But the Texas Supreme Court overruled the city government, and ordered the city to let the measure go on the ballot, so the people of Houston could vote on it.

The U.S. Education Department says a Chicago school district must grant a transgender teen access to the girls' locker room. The school superintendent opposes the move, calling it a case of "serious" government overreach.Read more here.

It's a crushing defeat for Mayor Parker, who rallied support for the ordinance from President Barack Obama, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and corporate giants like Apple.  Her allies raised millions, outspending opponents roughly 3 to 1.

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, hailed the vote as a victory for religious liberty.

"Months ago, when Mayor Parker attempted to subpoena the sermons of Houston pastors, I argued then that the preaching of the church of God does not belong to the government and we will not hand it over. Not now. Not ever," he said in a statement.

"Here, the people of Houston have spoken and said the same is true of the conscience. The defeat of this proposition ensures that the consciences of men and women will not be steamrolled, and that unsuspecting citizens will not be put into vulnerable situations," he concluded.
It's also a major loss for gay rights activists nationally as outside sources poured in close to $3 million to support the measure.

The Fairfax County Virginia School Board sues a conservative, non-partisan group to conceal transgender policy. Click to learn about the case and what the school district is trying to hide.  

Voter turnout may have made the difference.  Early voting numbers doubled compared to the last local election.

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About The Author


Heather Sells covers wide-ranging stories for CBN News that include religious liberty, ministry trends, immigration, and education. She’s known for telling personal stories that capture the issues of the day, from the border sheriff who rescues migrants in the desert to the parents struggling with a child that identifies as transgender. In the last year, she has reported on immigration at the Texas border, from Washington, D.C., in advance of the Dobbs abortion case, at crisis pregnancy centers in Massachusetts, and on sexual abuse reform at the annual Southern Baptist meeting in Anaheim