GRACE CHURCH

To all Houstonians,

Next Wednesday,  Mayor Annise Parker and the City Council will vote to approve a "non-discrimination ordinance." This ordinance is more aptly described as a wide-reaching pro-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender ordinance and it is a direct threat to the rights of all who live and work in Houston, Texas.

The ordinance clearly states the Mayor's intent to force individuals and businesses to affirm homosexual conduct and gender identity issues or face criminal penalties and fines. She is sending a direct message: the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender citizens are more important than the rights of citizens who do not fall into one of those categories. State and federal laws already prohibit discrimination against race, color, national origin, sex, and religion. This proposed city ordinance seeks to elevate sexual preference to a constitutionally protected class.

The mayor is shamefully equating the civil rights guaranteed and protected by the Civil Rights Act because of the color of a person's skin with her personal lifestyle choice.  Using that, her proposed ordinance is couched in non-discrimination language that, without question, discriminates against people, like you and me, who want to live by our own personal convictions. We strongly believe that no one should suffer from discrimination and that each person is entitled to his or her own rights and moral beliefs.  We also believe we should not be forced to normalize lifestyle choices that God says "no" to.

Those who oppose this ordinance have been labeled as "intolerant." Tolerance should not be defined as casting aside and acting against one's own beliefs to accommodate someone else's. Simply put, the homosexual community wants us to tolerate their behavior and beliefs but does not want to give the rest of us that same courtesy. On top of that, they want to use threats of criminal prosecution and fines to accomplish our acquiescence. Their rights should end where our morality and rights begin.

Consider two points contained in this ordinance that will affect you.  There are more that will affect every business in Houston.

1)  Under the proposed ordinance, women's restrooms will be open to men who feel or claim to feel that they are women. As a result, restrooms, showers, and locker rooms throughout Houston will be open to sexual predators who can use this proposed ordinance as cover of protection to violate women and young girls. For example, a biological male could claim that his perceived gender identity is female, walk into a women's restroom, locker room, or shower and, under this ordinance, he - not women and children - would be protected. The business owner could face prosecution or a lawsuit if he asks a man to leave a ladies' restroom.  The police will not be able to ask him to leave because this ordinance will give him the legal right to be there.

The Houston city attorney who worked on this ordinance for many months said he couldn't find a single instance where a male sexual predator put on women's clothing and then entered a women's restroom or locker room to watch or photograph women and young girls undressing or using the restroom, or exposing himself to them.  Our legal team found more than a dozen in a brief analysis of Mayor Parker's ordinance that will give legal protection to sexual predators like this by allowing them to legally enter most every women's restroom in Houston.

I have been asked, what about a man who genuinely believes he is a woman and is not a sexual predator?  I say....Why should his “right” to use the ladies room trump the rights of all the ladies and girls? In Olympia, Washington, a man who identifies as a woman was using the girls’ locker room at a college swimming pool shared with the local high school. The high school girls were shocked to find him sitting with his legs open in their sauna. The police report even said that “she” was “exposing her male genitalia”! But the school said there was nothing they could do because of transgender rights. IS THIS WHAT WE WANT IN HOUSTON TEXAS?

If you think that you will not be affected by the proposed ordinance simply because you do not live in the city, you are wrong. If you patronize Houston businesses, attend athletic or public events, or shop in our local malls, you will be directly affected because this tragic ordinance, not the sign outside of the door, will dictate who may use a restroom.

2)  If you are a Christian who bases your faith and convictions on what the Bible actually says, and you provide a business service that because of a person's chosen lifestyle, providing that service would violate your convictions, so you say "NO".......remember, this is a life style they choose.....not the color of their skin...which a person does not choose......Mayor Parker is proposing an ordinance that will make you a criminal if you say no simply because of your deeply held religious convictions.  You aren't in any way devaluing them as a person, nor are you being hateful or ugly toward them. ...but..as a Christian, you just don't want to be forced to endorse or participate or support their lifestyle choice, so you turn down their business.  With this ordinance Mayor Parker will prosecute you as a criminal.

We constantly tell our children to be strong and say "no" to things in which we do not believe. Will we do the same? The voice of the proponents of this ordinance has been heard. The mayor already thinks she has the votes to pass this.  Many of the council members are poised to vote for this ordinance because of pressure from the gay community.  It's time they heard our voice....loud and clear.  It's time we finally stand up and say....NO MORE!  Before your rights as citizens are forcefully taken from you, I implore you to let your voice be heard.

Contact, either by email or phone, every council member and the mayor, no matter where you live in Houston or in the greater metropolitan area. Respectfully state that voting for this ordinance will take away your rights to live what you believe, will be unsafe for women and children, will adversely impact local businesses, will clog our courts, and will unnecessarily spend our tax dollars. Tell them as an elected representative of the people, you expect them to vote Against This Ordinance.

Please join Becky and me on the steps of city hall on Tuesday at 12:00 noon for a short press conference/rally.  Just think what would happen if thousands of people showed up. We must make the council members pay attention to what we are saying.  To do that, we must have a massive turn out.  Otherwise, they just ignore us.

We are where we are in our nation because the overwhelming majority of Americans who still believe in the God of the Bible,  believe in God's definition of human sexuality......male and female, and believe in common moral decency HAVE REMAINED SILENT!   WE MUST BE SILENT NO MORE!

I implore you to let your voice be heard.  Please call or email every city council member and respectfully demand that they vote NO.  Please pass this on to everyone you can and ask them to do the same.

Becky and I moved to Houston thirty years ago from the San Francisco area and began Grace with twelve people.  We raised our daughters here.  Our grandchildren all live here.  We love our city.  The city attorney said we must approve this ordinance so we can be like the other major cities in the country.  I'm sure San Francisco is on he and Mayor Parker's list.  We can tell you, since we came here from San Francisco, that we don't want Houston to become  San Francisco.

Steve Riggle,

Senior Pastor

Grace Community Church

___________________

District A    Brenda Stardig    Phone: 832.393.3010    districta@houstontx.gov

District B    Jerry Davis    Phone: 832.393.3009    districtb@houstontx.gov

District C    Ellen Cohen    Phone: 832.393.3004    districtc@houstontx.gov

District D    Dwight Boykins    Phone: 832.393.3001    districtd@houstontx.gov

District E    Dave Martin    Phone: 832.393.3008    districte@houstontx.gov

District F    Richard Nguyen    Phone: 832.393.3002    districtf@houstontx.gov

District G    Oliver Pennington    Phone: 832.393.3007    districtg@houstontx.gov

District H    Ed Gonzalez    Phone: 832.393.3003    districth@houstontx.gov

District I    Robert Gallegos    Phone: 832.393.3011    districti@houstontx.gov

District J    Mike Laster    Phone: 832.393.3015    districtj@houstontx.gov

District K    Larry Green    Phone: 832.393.3016    districtk@houstontx.gov

At Large 1        Stephen C. Costello    Phone: 832.393.3014    atlarge1@houstontx.gov

At Large 2        David Robinson        Phone: 832.393.3013    atlarge2@houstontx.gov

At Large 3        Michael Kubosh        Phone: 832.393.3005    atlarge3@houstontx.gov

At Large 4        C.O. "Brad" Bradford    Phone: 832.393.3012    atlarge4@houstontx.gov

At Large 5        Jack Christie        Phone: 832.393.3017    atlarge5@houstontx.gov

Mayor            Annise D. Parker        Phone: 832.393.1040    mayor@houstontx.gov