Effort continues to force non-discrimination ordinance to public vote

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- When opponents of the city's non-discrimination ordinance delivered boxes filled with signatures three weeks ago, the question was will there be enough verified signatures for the ordinance to be put on this November's ballot. More than 17,000 valid signatures are needed.

On Friday, city council members held a committee hearing, hoping for an answer. They didn't get one.

"We don't know at this time," said City Attorney Dave Feldman.

He says the City Secretary's office has another week to go through the 5,199 pages of documents submitted.

Supporters of the repeal are patient. David Welch, head of the Houston Area Pastor's Council, led the effort to block the ordinance's passage. His group even has a website called nounequalrights.com, and they're prepared for a vigorous campaign to get the ordinance repealed.

When asked if he wanted the ordinance on this November's ballot or on the ballot in 2015, Welch said there is some disagreement within his organization, but their overall objective remain unchanged.

"We're confident that the voters of Houston will decide the issue of protecting women and children, and protect our rights," said Welch.

Supporters of the ordinance relished their big win at city council months ago, but in the back of their minds, always knew the fight wasn't over. In fact, since the petitions have been turned in, the non-discrimination has not been able to be enforced because of the ongoing repeal effort. Now supporters have their own website, HEROpetition.com. They have cataloged every single page of the opponents' petition online, and are prepared to fight against the repeal.

"Houston is a city that doesn't discriminate," said Noel Freeman, a local GLBT community activist. "Whether it goes to the ballot either year, we'll be victorious. Houston will stand tall and vote the repeal down."

We expect to have a full answer by the end of next week.
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