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Lord, I thought I knew you,

   but know the winds have changed.

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Loree Brownfield

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4.3.14 - FROM TEXAS PASTOR COUNCIL - Issue 623, Vol. 1

TO: Annise Parker, Mayor of Houston;

CC: Honorable Members of Houston City Council , Houston Media

FROM: Houston Area Pastor Council (Contact: Dave Welch 832-688-9166)

DATED: April 3, 2014

The commitment you reiterated in your inaugural address to add gender and sexual preference-related categories to city non-discrimination protections by ordinance raises significant concerns and even fears among our churches. The reason for the latter is your support of the San Antonio ordinance that punishes individuals, businesses and even churches for practicing our historic beliefs.

That ordinance assaults not only the values but the basic First Amendment rights of city citizens, business owners and churches to live, speak about and practice their faith. Those who believe - including churches - that marriage should remain a union between one man and one woman, that the sex (gender) of a person is determined at birth and identified by chromosomes, genitalia and organs rather than by feelings are now second class citizens in the Alamo City.

Your re-election as mayor, having made your sexual preference a centerpiece of your previous administrations, defies that any such discrimination exists in city government. Your elevation of individuals such as transgender activist/municipal court judge Phyllis Frye and without doubt many others of the LGBT lifestyles to appointed positions illustrates this as well.

In addition, adding these categories has no legal, public policy or moral basis. Please note that gender "identity" and/or "expression" are subjective, changeable and therefore undefinable categories as the basis for a punitive ordinance.

I trust that you are familiar with the legal term "suspect class" used by the Supreme Court of the United States as a basis for extending protections against discrimination to a class of people. Any person or group can claim discrimination, however the courts have an accepted standard that we often also call "Minority Status" or "Protected Class" as follows. The class of people:

. Have an inherent trait.

. Have a trait that is highly visible

. As a class, have been disadvantaged historically. (e.g. jobs, education)

. Are part of a group that has historically lacked effective representation in the political process.

(Racial and ethnic classifications are the two suspect classifications most often given strict scrutiny.) ( < %2Cbnlv8dk>

Those who assert a sexual or gender identity DO NOT AS A CLASS have highly visible inherent traits, suffer any evidence of economic disadvantage or lack representation. Your claims and proposed plans for policy change have no legal or rational basis.

You would also leave an innumerable list of similar behaviors left "unprotected" - guaranteeing endless extension of new and equally indefensible categories. For the many Black pastors we serve who remember "Jim Crowe" and as a class suffering what real discrimination is, as well as fighting for equal opportunity against real institutional and cultural discrimination, we find this patently offensive.

The only evident basis for proposing such an ordinance would be willful intent to serve a political agenda that is not in the best interest of the city of Houston.

To Mayor Parker, we urge you to withdraw your plans to propose and advocate this unnecessary and ill-advised policy. To Houston City Council members, we ask you to go on record as opposing such an ordinance.

We humbly but firmly want you to understand that we will be compelled by the love of our God, our families and our city to defend our consciences, convictions and rights by initiative, litigation and/or the ballot box should such an ordinance pass.

In summary we fundamentally oppose adding any sexual behavior or gender "identity" to city non-discrimination policies for either city government or burdening the private sector including citizens, businesses and churches as unnecessary. Again, in overview the San Antonio ordinance:

. Forces churches and ministries, among others, to hire employees who practice or openly promote un-Biblical lifestyles.

. Places a "gag order" on current and future city appointees for any position from expressing a Biblical belief that sex outside of marriage is sin.

. Forces business owners such as photographers, printers and others to violate their conscience against such things as same-sex ceremonies and pro-GLBT promotional materials, etc. It would open up restrooms in churches and businesses to opposite gender use.

. Affirms by the power of city law that "sexual orientation", "gender identity" and "gender expression" are legitimate legal categories equal to race, gender and religion.

We have no choice but to rally pastors and business leaders throughout the city to oppose any such ordinance with all resources available and will expect city council members to vote against it for the above reasons.

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