The verdict on whether anti-gay activist Dave Wilson collected enough valid signatures to force a vote to amend the city charter and bar men “who perceive or express themselves as women” from entering women’s restrooms will have to wait.
On Friday evening, the city appealed District Court Judge Brent Gamble’s order to count the signatures on Wilson’s petition by Saturday’s deadline, saying it “is an untimely referendum petition, not a charter amendment.”
Wilson, a Houston Community College trustee, said he collected more than 22,000 signatures, more than the needed 20,000 to change city charter.
The secretary’s office was counting signatures under order from a state district judge since late July. Wilson says the city tried to delay validating signatures until Monday and asked Gamble to clarify his order in a conference call on Monday. Gamble refused to grant the city a delay or to clarify his order, according to both Wilson and the letter from the city appealing the order.
Wilson has said the equal rights ordinance is not driving his petition, which seeks to define gender identity “as an individual’s innate identification, as either male or female, which is assigned at birth.” It would require businesses to adopt the same definition.
To Wilson, the petition is a small step in reversing a cultural decline in the city.
“We need to focus on filling potholes rather than the homosexual agenda,” Wilson said.
See here, here, and here for the background. Anyone who believes Wilson, who didn’t start collecting signatures for this effort until after the HERO had passed, wasn’t motivated by the HERO probably also believes in the Easter Bunny. That’s not exactly the same as saying his effort is equivalent to a repeal, however, so I’ll refrain from speculating what an appeals court might rule. And anyone who thinks the repeal effort isn’t being driven by a deep-seated animus towards LGBT folks need only read those last two paragraphs. We’re either a city of opportunity for all, or we’re Dave Wilson’s Houston. I know what my preference is.