About 24 pastors and 100 spectators gathered at a library in Plano today (Jan. 7) to denounce the new Plano equal rights ordinance.
Liberty Institute attorney Jeff Mateer, who explained that his Plano-based group “defends religious liberty,” called the ordinance unconstitutional and said it “threatens the religious liberty of Plano citizens and businesses.”
Opponents have 10 days to collect 3,800 signatures to force the city council to repeal the ordinance or call an election. A pastor from Prestonwood Baptist Church said ministers would be denouncing the ordinance from the pulpit and collecting signatures in church. He claimed that doesn’t violate their non-profit status because they are not supporting a candidate or party. He called the issue bi-partisan.
Dave Welch, an agitator from Houston who heads the Houston Pastors Council, said his group collected more than 50,000 signatures and verified more than 30,000. He didn’t tell the group that fewer than the 17,000 required signatures were actually valid.
“There was no discrimination in Plano and no need for this ordinance,” Welch said to a standing ovation.
Members of Collin County’s delegation to the state House of Representatives pledged to pass a law that would outlaw any LGBT protections by cities.
Pat Gallagher, a Plano city councilman who voted against the ordinance, rose to address the group. He was shouted down because he voted against the proposal for the wrong reason, wanting to delay the vote rather than because he had strong religious views on the issue.
Plano Mayor Henry LaRosiliere spoke to reporters at Plano City Hall about an hour after the library rally.
“It’s fair. It’s legal. It’s constitutional,” LaRosiliere said about the ordinance.
Welch said at his rally that he wanted to debate the ordinance with the mayor.
“The debate is over,” LaRosiliere said. “We respect the rights of all 270,000 citizens.”
The mayor said he will let the petitioning go through its process and have the city secretary verify the signatures. If 3,800 signatures are valid, the council will vote to either repeal the amendment or put it on the ballot.
LaRosiliere stood firm repeating several times the debate about equality was over. He said companies such as Toyota moving to the city had nothing to do with passage of the ordinance, but that Plano respects every one of its citizens.