US: Thousands rally for ‘religious freedom’ against Houston equal rights law

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Thousands of anti-LGBT activists gathered in Houston, Texas on Sunday evening to rally against Houston’s equal rights ordinance.

The “I Stand Sunday” event, hosted by Grace Community Church, saw support from notorious anti-gay guests and speakers, including Mike Huckabee, Todd Starnes, and Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson.

The pastor of Grace Community Church, Steve Riggle, was one of the five who originally challenged the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO)

According to ThinkProgress, several attendees wore shirts which read: “We Reserve The Right To Refuse Service To Homosexuals.”

Phil Robertson, speaking at the event, made a joking reference to the trans-inclusive aspects of the legislation.

He said: “For all you ladies in Texas, trust me when I tell you this. When you’re seated in your restroom, putting on your Maybelline, when I need to take a leak I’m not going there.”

An introductory video also featured Pastor Willie Davis, who said: “How can you call something equal when it divides? How can you call something right when it’s all wrong?”

Meanwhile, LGBT activists campaigned against the event by holding a “Positive Impact Day,” in which they spent the afternoon collecting winter clothes for the homeless.

A court challenge to Houston’s equal rights ordinance will be heard in January.

Anti-equality activists in July submitted boxes of around 31,000 signatures to block a planned LGBT equality law – above the threshold of 17,269 required to send it to a public vote.

However, the tactics of campaigners gathering signatures were strongly criticised, with church groups claiming it would allow ‘men dressed as women’ to attack people in bathrooms.

In addition, the TransAdvocate accused them of collecting “fraudulent” signatures from people who are not registered to vote in Houston.

Last week, the daughter of the Mayor of Houston was refused a driver’s license by the Texas Department of Public Safety because she has two mothers.