Houston mayor withdraws pastor subpoenas after national uproar

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from The Washington Times,

Houston Mayor Annise Parker announced Wednesday that she will withdraw subpoenas aimed at five local pastors after a national firestorm during which she was accused of anti-religious intimidation and abuse of power.

Ms. Parker said at a press conference that removing the subpoenas lets the city avoid a squabble over freedom of religion in the legal battle over its recently enacted gender-neutral bathroom bill.

“I didn’t do this to satisfy them,” Ms. Parker said of her critics in the Houston Chronicle. “I did it because it was not serving Houston.”

Alliance Defending Freedom senior legal counsel Erik Stanley, who challenged the subpoenas on behalf of the pastors, said in a statement that Ms. Parker “had no choice but to withdraw these subpoenas, which should never have been served in the first place.”

“The entire nation — voices from every point of the spectrum left to right — recognize the city’s action as a gross abuse of power,” Mr. Stanley said. “We are gratified that the First Amendment rights of the pastors have triumphed over government overreach and intimidation. The First Amendment protects the right of pastors to be free from government intimidation and coercion of this sort.”

City officials originally issued subpoenas calling for pastors to turn over sermons related to the gender-neutral bathroom law, known as the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, but removed sermons from the subpoenas after a public outcry.

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