What’s that definition of insanity again?
Opponents of Houston’s equal rights ordinance have once again submitted petitions calling for a voter referendum to put a gender identity issue on the ballot in November, but the mayor says it’s not going to happen.
Anti-gay activist Dave Wilson showed up at Houston City Hall Thursday with boxes of petitions he said bore the signatures of 20,000 voters calling for a referendum on a city charter amendment defining one’s gender as whatever sex was assigned at birth.
“It will prohibit men from going into women’s bathrooms and vice versa in all sex-oriented facilities — like swimming pools, locker rooms — that the city has,” Wilson said.
Wilson said his proposed charter change would effectively nullify much of the equal rights ordinance. And that’s precisely why Mayor Annise Parker said Wilson’s latest petition drive will come to nothing.
“It’s a non-starter, because it has been determined by a federal court that you cannot change an ordinance with a charter amendment,” Parker said.
The legal precedent the mayor cited comes from a ruling in a case involving Houston’s troubled history with red light cameras. It’s a complicated matter involving the difference between an ordinance and the city charter.
Any petition effort to repeal an ordinance in Houston must be completed within 30 days after the passage of that ordinance. Opponents of Houston’s red light cameras thought they’d worked their way around that restriction by proposing not a repeal of the ordinance, but a charter amendment that accomplished the same goal.
But a federal judge issued a sharply worded opinion against that notion.
It was just three months ago that Wilson failed at this the last time, having not turned in enough signatures to meet the statutory minimum. Not that it mattered, since as Mayor Parker points out, you can’t use the charter process to amend an existing ordinance except within a 30 day period of the ordinance taking effect. Needless to say, that ship has long since sailed. But as always this is really all about Dave Wilson getting attention for himself and painting himself as a victim of oppression, both of which he is highly successful at doing. The rest of it, not so much. And to add to the mountain of evidence that the law means nothing to Dave Wilson, he’s filed a lawsuit against the city to force them to count the signatures anyway, presumably before dumping them all in the trash since they’re irrelevant. I guess all this activity keeps him off the streets, so we should be thankful for that. I just pity the poor judge who will have to deal with this, since Wilson is representing himself. (According to the Chron story, the case is in the 270th District Civil Court.) And I’m sure we’ll be back in another few months with another batch of pointless petitions. Lather, rinse, repeat.