Brad Pritchett

Brad Pritchett of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus

A Houston judge sided with the city of Houston and ruled that opponents didn’t collect enough valid signatures to trigger an election to repel the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance — HERO.

The ordinance was passed last May and has been on hold since then because of the attempted recall. More than 17,000 valid signatures were needed. Opponents turned in 31,000 signatures but only 5,000 of them were valid.

“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,” Mayor Annise Parker said, according to KPRC in Houston.

Houston GLBT Political Caucus’ Brad Pritchett showed an example of the lengths opponents went to manipulate the petitions. Rather than collect valid signatures, they insisted someone who votes outside of Houston used a non-existent Houston address and testified in court that person simply moved since signing.

Despite findings by a jury and a final ruling by a judge, opponents may appeal. And the opponents who lied about the petitions during the trial could be charged with perjury.

After Plano passed a nondiscrimination ordinance, the same Houston group was recruited to help collect signatures to repeal that law. In that case, every one of the signatures collected was thrown out as invalid because the petitions were incorrectly written and were not notarized.