January 15, 2016
TO: Hon. Sylvester Turner, Mayor; Hon. Mike Knox; Hon. David Robinson; Hon. Michael Kubosh; Hon. Amanda Edwards; Hon. Jack Christie; Hon. Brenda Stardig; Hon. Jerry Davis; Hon. Ellen Cohen; Hon. Boykins; Hon. Dave Martin; Hon. Steve Le; Hon. Greg Travis; Hon. Karla Cisneros; Hon. Robert Gallegos; Hon. Mike Laster; Hon. Larry Green, City Council Members, City of Houston
FROM: Dr. F.N. Williams Sr., Pastor Max Miller, Dr. Steve Riggle, Dr. Ed Young, Pastor Greg Matte, Dr. Hernan Castano, Pastor Willie Davis, Dr. Khanh Huynh, Rev. Magda Hermida, Pastor Tim Barker, Pastor Roland Robinson, Rev. Dave Welch, et al.
Dear Honorable Mayor and City Council:
As we enter a new year and a new administration for the City of Houston we sincerely express our appreciation to you for offering yourself in the service of governing, or what Holy Scripture calls “a minister of God to you for good.” (Rom. 13:4) Being chosen by the people to represent citizens whether by district or at large carries a great weight of responsibility and we commit to you our prayer.
We represent the broad and diverse coalition of churches and citizens who opposed the ordinance proposed by Mayor Parker and adopted by a majority of the previous Council that became known as “Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.” Although the people spoke clearly on November 12 by soundly rejecting Proposition 1, it is a concern that it or some variation may be reintroduced. We sincerely hope not, and explain why as follows.
1. There has never been documented, credible evidence presented that systemic discrimination exists in any current or newly proposed “protected characteristics” that would justify a massive, sweeping new layer of city government.
2. The hundreds of pastors and congregations represented in this coalition are universally for equal rights for all people and opposed to wrongful discrimination based on credible class qualifications. We do not accept the premise that vague, changing and unidentifiable behaviors such as sexual lifestyle or gender confusion are equal to race, sex or religion.
3. We believe that the U.S. Supreme Court’s standard of qualification for “suspect class” has served well to assure that non-discrimination protections are not abused. Those include:
1. Class has an immutable (unchangeable) and visible characteristic.
2. Class has been denied access to quality education and/or is economically disadvantaged.
3. Class must be politically disenfranchised, “powerless to protect themselves via the political process.”
4. Not one of the previous qualifications can be applied as a class to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender community using basic U.S. Census data and simple electoral demographics.
5. Houston is already a “world class” city in many ways that is accepting and tolerant of all cultures, faiths and lifestyles as evidenced by the diversity in City Council itself, the community, the churches, synagogues and mosques, businesses and every aspect of our region.
6. The controversial “Equal Rights Ordinance” itself, followed by the acts of the previous Mayor, caused much more division in the city and harm to Houston’s image than existed prior to attempting to add a new law that criminalizes people for faith and common sense.
7. Any such problems that exist in the city should be thoughtfully and carefully addressed with the inclusion of religious, business and community leaders at the table for responsible solutions that honor God, respect the constitutional rights of all people and bring remedy.
We assure you that we are as committed and concerned about the spiritual, moral and fiscal health of our city as ever and hope that this administration and Council will first focus on legitimate and pressing issues that are clear and evident. We commit to working with you to address those issues within the boundaries or our faith convictions and guiding principles that have served well for millennia.
We urge you to consider these facts and views for further discussion. On behalf of the hundreds of pastors representing all colors, corners and creeds of churches throughout Houston in the No UNequal Rights Coalition and No on Houston Prop 1 effort we will continue to serve our God and serve the city. We look forward to serving with you.
** Transgenderism and Fairness to Female Athletes (http://uspastorcouncil.org/updates/transgenderism-and-fairness-to-female-athletes/)