Court smacks down petition to stop Houston LGBT rights law

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A court has upheld an equal rights ordinance in Houston, Texas – after rejecting a legal challenge from anti-gay activists.

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

However, legal action was sparked when the petition was declared void over allegations that a lot of the signatures were fake, taking it well below the threshold.

Over the weekend, state district Judge Robert Schaffer threw out the challenge – upholding a jury ruling from February that a vast number of signatures had been faked or forged.

Judge Schaffer’s ruling means the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance – which provides basic protections for LGBT workers – can finally come into force.

Out Democratic mayor Annise Parker told the Houston Chronicle: “I would hope that the plaintiffs would not appeal, they lost during a jury trial and today they also lost with the judge’s ruling.

“Now all Houstonians have access to the same protections.”


The city’s lead attorney Geoffrey Harrison added: “The jury’s verdict and the judge’s ruling are a powerful smack-down against the forces of discrimination and intolerance. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll reconsider their misguided ways.”

However, opponents – who were accused of running a misleading scaremongering campaign in order to get votes for their petition – have said they plan to appeal further.

The Texas Republican Party recently elected a new Chairman – who threatened to cancel his newspaper subscription if his local paper included a gay kiss.