HoustonForMarriage.com

Megachurch pastor asks Houston mayor to resign over same-sex marriage

Megachurch asks mayor not to promote same-sex marriage

Mayor Parker Fires Back at Mega Church Pastor

Annise Parker, Houston Mayor, On President Obama, Gay Marriage And Being An Out Politician (Huffington Post)

Is Mayor Parker Damaging Her Political Career?

 Pastor, mayor go head to head (KRPC Channel 2, Houston, NBC)

Megachurch pastor challenges Mayor Parker from the pulpit (KHOU Channel 11 Houston, CBS)

Mayor Parker getting political pushback on gay marriage support (Houston Chronicle)

Mayor Parker Vs Pastors and President

Reputation for tolerance gives Houston an advantage (Rob Todd Op-Ed, Houston Chronicle)

 

A PASTORAL LETTER TO MAYOR ANNISE PARKER ON MARRIAGE

The following includes my letter to Mayor Parker (Houston, Texas) and my public response to comments made by her after my letter hit the press. I gave my response in one of the Sunday morning services a week later. I've also included what I wrote to address some legitimate questions and a response to some quotes from a city council member.

Dr. Steve Riggle

Senior Pastor, Grace Community Church, Houston
President, Grace International


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Dear Mayor Parker,

I am writing on behalf of myself and as the Senior Pastor of Grace to express my deep disappointment in your recent public actions and statements that undermine the express will of the people of the state of Texas in regard to traditional marriage. As you are aware, we have declared by constitutional amendment that marriage is to be defined as between one man and one woman. While you are certainly entitled to your personal views and lifestyle that does not embrace traditional marriage (even if I happen to disagree with those views and I do), it is very disturbing to me when you make statements as an elected official that are contrary to what the people have decided should be the foundational values and definitions that define our culture.

I was deeply disturbed some months ago when a memo was circulated by an office connected to your office that titled your partner as the first lady of Houston. You should have corrected that since you know that title has been given only to the wife or husband of the mayor in the appropriate gender language.

At your swearing in, I heard you take your oath of office and swear to uphold the constitution of the State of Texas. To then, just a few weeks later, stand with other mayors and call for action regarding marriage that would violate the very constitution you were swearing to uphold is less than integral. In what I have seen, you were described not as citizen Annise Parker, but as Mayor Annise Parker. That says to me, you were speaking as our mayor.

I respectfully request that you not use your office or title to press your personal views and lifestyle on this subject that we, the people, have so clearly spoken to. Additionally, as our mayor, I would request that you be true to the vow you took to uphold the constitution of the State of Texas and stand for traditional marriage since we as the citizens of Texas have expressed by amending our constitution that marriage will be defined as between one man and one woman.

Respectfully, if you cannot uphold the Texas constitution, then you should do the honorable thing and step down.

I do appreciate the commendation you have given Grace and our service to the social needs of the community as we ongoingly care for the least among us, and our hosting the services when a first responder falls in the line of duty. However, on the issue of marriage, I respectfully, but very strongly, stand in opposition to what seems to be your agenda. While we will continue to serve the needs of our city as we have done for many years, we will oppose your efforts to represent us as our mayor.

We, the fifteen thousand people of Grace, have always done our best to be supportive of our elected officials and to pray for them on a regular basis. Regretfully, while we will continue to pray for you, we will not support your actions or stand passively by and allow you to redefine what has always been the definition of marriage.

Respectfully,

Dr. Steve Riggle
Senior Pastor
Grace Community Church



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A PASTORAL RESPONSE TO COMMENTS MADE THIS WEEK................

I am speaking out because I am very concerned about the kind of nation my generation will pass on. May those who follow find us faithful to those values that have made us great.



Personal animus toward you........by that I assume you mean my personal attitude and or animosity toward you. I want to make it clear that I don't have any personal attitude or animosity toward you. I realize it would make it much easier to just write off my letter to you by dismissing my concerns as personal animosity on my part. Let's be clear. My letter was in response to actions that you have taken as the mayor of Houston that are clearly in opposition to the expressed will of the citizens of Harris county. I made it clear that I did not write to you because you are gay. I wrote to you because, as the mayor, you have chosen to advocate for what the citizens of Houston and the citizens of Texas have overwhelmingly spoken against.



I don't hate people of any kind.......I have read this week that I am anti gay and a gay hater....I flatly deny that. I have held the hand of people who were gay and dying with HIVas they passed in to eternity just as I have done with people who were not gay and dying of some disease as they passed in to eternity. Because I disagree with the lifestyle choices people make, does not mean I hate the people who make those choices.

***********One news source quoted you as saying........
She made her most candid comments yet on a SiriusXM radio program. The first openly gay mayor of a major city says she's been hit with a wave of hate mail from Houston's religious right activists.

Frankly, Mayor, you should be above general characterizations since you condemn those when they are used to describe the gay community, They should have no place in this issue as I have only asked you to stand with the will of the people.

When Becky and I raised our girls, there were three authorities we never recognized........anybody, nobody, and everybody. All general characterizations. Dad, anybody knows that. Dad, everybody is doing it, it's really okay. Dad, nobody does that anymore.

General characterizations tend to not be totally accurate and lump everyone together and seemingly add weight to an argument.

If we, the people of Grace, are who you were referring to as religious right activists....let me tell you who we are.....

............we are teachers and transit workers, engineers and educators, business owners and city workers, NASA employees, petro chemical workers and service sector career people........we are single men and women, married (man and woman), single moms and dads, young, middle aged and seniors. We are poor, middle income, and some who are rich. We are black, white, brown, every color in God's rainbow of nations............we look like heaven. We worship together as one.......those who drove here today in the nicest cars money can buy and those whose cars barely made it here and may not have enough gas to make it home.

We feed, house, and clothe the homeless every single day. We send teams into neighborhoods with strong gang activity. We have participated in remodeling one of our public schools in a very poor area. We have supported the teen court iniative with the Ministers Against Crime and have paid for a number of inner city kids to be able to attend a summer camp every year as well as purchased toys so kids would have a great Christmas.

We served on the point of reaching out during Hurricane Ike although our building was damaged and most of our members homes were also damaged. We gave out massive amounts of food and water and money. I personally instructed our finance office to give multiple thousands of dollars to a number of our members who distributed that money to people in need.

We did the same thing with Katrina. Becky and I and one of our daughters were at the Astrodome when the buses began to arrive from New Orleans and worked for hours distributing food and clothing to needy people. We had a medical clinic set up at the church, gave out large amounts of clothing and food, set up housing for people in need and gave out between $150,000 and $200,000 cash to people in need when the major charities were raising millions of dollars all over the country in tv asks and here in Houston wouldn't even answer their phone when people who desperately needed help tried to call.

Some have pointed out that the Republicans are using this building in a few months. As far as I know, the Democrats have never asked. Nor has any other political party. Democrats as well as Republicans have been thanked from this stage for their service to the community.

Mayor Bill White addressed this congregation more than Governor Perry has. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee has been honored on this stage numerous times for serving the community and our church while her counterpart in the neighboring district Congressman Pete Olson has never been here.

What hasn't been mentioned is that we intended for the community to use this building when we built it. If you checked out our fundraising brochures to the congregation, you would find that opening this large facility to civic groups to use was part of our plan so that we could serve our city .

What also wasn't mentioned was that we have hosted a number of the memorial services for first responders and that many of our congregation took off work to help serve during those services. We have been honored to host the Houston Symphony a number of times,various community related seminars, and even police training. We have hosted events for thousands of teens, numerous concerts for the community, and banquets to raise funds for teen pregnancy. We have hosted numerous public school events, from graduations to convocations to concerts. A few have said that the public schools shouldn't use our facilities as if a building crosses some kind of line. How absurd. Have we in the United States lost our collective mind and have no common sense left?

Mayor, you of course are aware of many of these things since you yourself have commended our service to this city. I have stood before city council and you expressed how valuable our church is to the Houston area. I brought two of the commendations we have been given today.


Mayor, I haven't spoken this week...though I have been asked by the media numerous times to do so. ......... .only you and others have spoken. Remember....I have only asked you as our mayor to speak up and stand for traditional marriage.....plain and simple.
I have also asked the city council to declare where they stand on traditional marriage because, we have a right to know. You are all public servants, serving at the will of the people. We deserve to know where you stand and that you will stand for what the people stand for.


I sincerely hope you did not receive any hate mail from the people of Grace. I did ask Grace to contact you, but asked them to be courteous and yet firm. A number of those who contacted you did copy me on what they sent you and I saw nothing that was even remotely hate mail. If you did receive any contact from a member of Grace that would classify as hate, you have my sincere apology.

Just so you are aware, this week I have been called an idiot, stupid, a dirt bag, I've been told to shut the hell up, stop hating so damm much, to piss off and stay out of politics, and tell the douche bag in a robe to shut his mouth and go back to gettin with the altar boys. And that is all from just one group that claims to represent your community.

Mayor Parker.......what would you call that? Will you condemn that kind of speech from the gay community? People like this are the real spreaders of hate speech and have attempted to silence anyone who holds another position by using demeaning labels and characterizations that are absolutely false.


I do trust that by hate mail you were not referring to my letter to you. As you know, I was respectful to you and only asked you to honor the will of the people as the mayor of our city.

Mayor Parker, I do ask you to speak out against hate speech and to not use incendiary language that seeks to silence critics by intimidation. Please remember, I only asked you to speak up for traditional marriage as expressed by the will of the people.

I also ask you to acknowledge that not only was my letter to you not hate speech, but that the citizens of a city have the right to ask those elected to represent them to abide by their will when they have overwhelmingly expressed that will by amending the state constitution.


***********SPEAKING OF AMENDING THE STATE CONSTITUTION........

Texas Proposition 2, also known as the Definition of Marriage Act, was on the November 8, 2005 election ballot in Texas as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved.
HJR 6 provided that marriage in Texas is solely the union of a man and woman, and that the state and its political subdivisions could not create or recognize any legal status identical to or similar to marriage, including such legal status relationships created outside of Texas.
Election results

Proposition 2
Result Votes Percentage
a Yes 1,723,782 76.25%
No 536,913 23.74%


Text of the proposal

The short ballot summary voters saw on their ballot read: "The constitutional amendment providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage."[1]
!!!!!!!!!!!! (this ballot language was very clear as opposed to the ballot language you supported on the drainage fee/rain tax which was clearly deceptive)


As laid out in Article 17 of the Texas Constitution, in order for a proposed constitutional amendment to be placed on the ballot, the Texas State Legislature must propose the amendment in a joint resolution of both the Texas State Senate and the Texas House of Representatives.

The joint resolution can originate in either the House or the Senate. The resolution must be adopted by a vote of at least two-thirds of the membership of each house of the legislature. That amounts to a minimum of 100 votes in the House of Representatives and 21 votes in the Senate.


**********News reports on the vote..............

Gay marriage vote crossed lines
ELECTION 2005
Gay marriage ban crossed political lines, analysts say
POLLY ROSS HUGHES and R.G. RATCLIFFE, Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau
Published 06:30 a.m., Thursday, November 10, 2005
Houston and Texas

AUSTIN - Blacks and Hispanics who traditionally vote Democratic strongly backed the state's gay marriage ban at the ballot box this week, sometimes outpolling Republicans, analysts said Wednesday.


Others agreed, noting that religion and family values resonate in traditionally Democratic precincts with large minority populations.

On the single issue of defining marriage as between a man and a woman, minorities often voted as favorably and sometimes more favorably than higher-income Republican precincts, said political scientist Tim O'Neill at Southwestern University in Georgetown.

"They don't see it as much as a civil rights issue as they see it as a right of traditional marriage issue," he said. "African-Americans are by far the strongest supporters of the Democratic Party, but not on this issue. This is not a Republican/Democratic issue per se."

Statewide the marriage amendment won 76 percent of the vote.

Big approval on the border
Along the heavily Democratic, Hispanic and economically distressed border with Mexico, it passed by 81 percent in Hidalgo County, 75 percent in Webb County and 86 percent in Jim Hogg County.

LET'S BE HONEST.........YOUR ASSERTIONS THAT THIS IS BY RIGHT WING ACTIVISTS IS BLATANTLY FALSE.....

......MARRIAGE BETWEEN A MAN AND A WOMAN IS NOT RIGHT WING......IT IS OVERWHELMINGLY MAINSTREAM......76% for traditional marriage statewide...........72% in Harris county


********** Mayor you said we don't understand the constitution. What did you mean by that?
I can read...and have generally been able to comprehend what I read. .I have a masters degree and a doctorate, both earned and from accredited institutions. Becky and I started this church with twelve people. We have served this city for 28 years. Members of this church are highly educated and skilled technicians who have run various parts of the space program and even been the astronauts who flew the shuttle and gave their lives serving our nation. It is a bit insulting for you to say we just dont understand. I would never say that about you.

I think you fully understand what you are doing. Respectfully, my letter was only in response to actions you are taking as mayor against the expressed will of the people. It appears that you have no intention of abiding by the will of the people as the mayor of our city. I fully acknowledged your right to your personal feelings and values even if I disagreed with them. I only asked you to stand up for what the people of Houston overwhelmingly expressed as their will regarding the definition of marriage..

Mayor Parker, in the future, please acknowledge that we are respectful, I have always been of you.........and that we do contribute to the well being of the community, and that we are entitled to what we believe the foundational values of our culture should be.

Again, 76% of the people of the state of Texas and 72% of the voters of Harris county approved of what I respectfully asked you to do.........as the mayor of Houston Texas.......stand with the expressed will of the people and the constitution of the state of Texas on the definition of marriage. That is not a fringe group of radical right wingers. That would be the overwhelming majority.



**********Parker is standing her ground. From the Houston Chronicle:

“I do my duty to uphold the state Constitution and the U.S. Constitution. I swore an oath to that. I take that oath very seriously, but I have my First Amendment rights to free speech. We all have the right to do that and I’m sorry that they (Riggle and his supporters) don’t understand the Constitution.”

(I have no problem with your free speech....as long as it is your speech. But when you speak for us as the mayor of Houston, when the people of Houston have overwhelmingly expressed their will and you speak in opposition to that expressed will, I do have a problem with that.

As the senior pastor of Grace, I speak for the church as I did in writing to you. I spoke for Grace because I know that the overwhelming majority of the people who are part of Grace feel that marriage should be defined in the traditional way......between one man and one woman.

When I have an opinion that would not be what is taught at Grace or the clear will of the people who attend Grace, I would state it as my opinion and make clear that I am not speaking for the church. You should do the same as the mayor of Houston, Texas.


It would be one thing if this were about a fiscal policy, but when it is about how we will define the foundations of the culture and the values that are holy, and when the people have overwhelmingly expressed their will, as a public servant you should stand with and declare the will of the people. If you cannot do that, you should do the honorable thing and resign.

I have read this week that some people think that I should resign for asking you to step down. As the Senior Pastor of Grace, if I could not uphold the doctrines and practices of this church, I would do the honorable thing and resign.

Like you, I took an oath. At my ordination I committed to be faithful to the Holy Scripture in personal practice, and in proclamation, both to the congregation and to the community so that those who want to hear the Word of the Lord, may do so.

You, in your own words in responding to the Houston Chronicle regarding my letter, said that you swore an oath to the state constitution and that you do your duty to uphold that constitution.

I respectfully submit that when you are standing with other mayors and advocating against what the constitution says, you are not fulfilling your oath to uphold the constitution.

My oath was to be faithful to the Holy Scriptures and to be a faithful pastor of the Church. Your oath was to uphold the constitution of the State of Texas and the express will of the people.

If I were not faithful to my oath and didn't do the honorable thing and resign, those who ordained me would remove me. It may be that if you are unwilling to do the honorable thing and resign, then those who put you in office may want to consider removing you.

**********SALLY MACDONALD, Reporter, HOUSTON - This Sunday a high profile Houston megachurch pastor will preach politics from the pulpit........( Sally, let me respectfully correct you.......not politics, but moral values.....

Marriage did not begin as a fiat of the state.......it was instituted by God in the beginning. Gen 2 the sacred institution of marriage ordained by God was long before republicans, democrats, independents, conservatives or liberals......even the United States of America....In the beginning God......a man shall leave his father and his mother and cleave to his wife.

Pastors have always spoken out on moral values from the pulpits of this nation and if you research history, you will discover that it was common practice by the early pastors to preach election day sermons that dealt with all of the issues of the day and they could last up to four hours.



**********"There's definitely a hard core group here that is just mortally offended that there is a lesbian mayor of Houston," said Parker on the Michaelangelo Signorile show.

I'm not sure what you mean by hard core
We are hard core only in the sense that we love God, love our families, love this nation, love our heritage and want to retain our values........and yes we fervently believe that the God ordained institution of marriage should be between man and woman, and again ask you as the mayor of Houston Texas to support the will of the people who with 76% of the vote statewide and 72 % of the vote in Harris county amended the constitution of the State of Texas regarding the definition of marriage.


************TO ALL......DEFINITIONS ARE IMPORTANT.........WHEN WE REDEFINE WORDS THAT NOW DEFINE THE VALUES OF THE CULTURE....................WE WILL LIVE WITH THE ACTIONS THAT FOLLOW.

Mayor, it was reported this week that you said you only wanted the ability to marry your spouse. Let me respectfully point out to you that in every definition, spouse is associated with a man or a woman in the context of marriage. Spousal refers directly to marriage. Since the definition of marriage in the state of Texas is between one man and one woman, it is not appropriate for you to refer to your partner as your spouse. She is also not the first lady of Houston, Texas as that title has always been given to the spouse of the mayor. Please ask those who are using this title to describe your partner to stop doing so.



***********News quote
Last month Parker joined about a hundred other mayors in calling for same sex marriage to be legalized. At City Hall Wednesday Parker said she's held to a different standard than her straight mayoral colleagues. "I don't hear anybody calling for them to resign for taking exactly the same position," she said. Parker says the only reason she's being attacked is because she's a member of the gay community

Mayor, let me respond to that by pointing out that they are not the mayor of Houston Texas. You are. And you are not being attacked. Asking you to stand up for what the people have overwhelmingly expressed as their will is not an attack. I can only assume that you have used that language to attempt to deflect what I asked you to do. That is less than honest and I respectfully ask you to withdraw that assertion. Your sexual orientation has nothing to do with my request for you to stand up for traditional marriage.

Once again, what I asked you to do was to speak up for traditional marriage as the mayor of Houston, Texas because 72% of the people of Harris county declared by amending the constitution of the state of Texas that marriage should be between one man and one woman.


...I don't know who the other 100+ mayors are. I would encourage pastors and congregations and citizens of those cities to address their mayors in a straightforward manner and ask them to also stand for traditional marriage or resign.

I do understand there are five Mayors of Texas cities who have joined your organization. I would encourage the citizens of those cities in Texas to overwhelmingly stand up for traditional marriage and demand that their mayor do the same. I would also encourage citizens of every city in Texas, large and small, to demand that their mayor and city council stand up for traditional marriage as defined by the Texas constitution.

Today I publicly ask every member of the city council of Houston, Texas to declare in some public manner where you stand on the definition of marriage.

I also respectfully ask you, Mayor Parker, to stand up for marriage as defined by the constitution of the state of Texas which was approved by 76% of the vote statewide and by 72% of the voters of Harris county. If you will not do that, I once again ask you to do the honorable thing and step down.

*********TO MY FELLOW PASTORS , I ask you to lead the charge in defense of this holy institution ordained by God.

May you be bold and courageously lead in this battle to protect the definition of marriage. May our united voices become one thunderous cry for what is right and righteous in the eyes of God.

May, we the people, resolutely stand together, not moved by demeaning labels or intimidated by threats and declare........
WE HAVE MADE A CHOICE....76% overwhelmingly say.....marriage will remain what it has always been...between a man and a woman.

JUST AS JOSHUA DREW A LINE AND ASKED THE POEPLE TO DECIDE WHICH SIDE THEY WERE ON..............THAT'S WHAT I AM DOING TODAY WITH THE ISSUE OF MARRIAGE.

IT'S TIME FOR THE POEPLE WHO BELIEVE THAT MARRIAGE SHOULD BE BETWEEN A MAN AND A WOMAN TO STAND UP AND SPEAK UP.............AND DEMAND THAT THOSE WHO ARE ELECTED TO REPRESENT US DO SO.

*********Respectfully, Mayor, maybe it's you who doesn't understand.
Just as the halls of congress do not belong to the lawmakers.....they belong to the people. Just as the statehouse in Austin doesnt belong to the Governor or the legislators....it belongs to the people........so the Houston city hall does not belong to you......IT BELONGS TO THE PEOPLE. And the people have spoken....resoundingly! I have only asked you to honor that......the voice of the people.

At the end of the day, Mayor Parker, this is really much bigger than you, it is about an ideology to fundamentally change who we are as a nation and the values we have always held.
.
To that we the people say NO......NOT NOW, NOT EVER.

MAY GOD BLESS AMERICA AS AMERICA HONORS GOD.


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To my ministry colleagues:

Some have asked me why I sent my letter to Mayor Parker and what could possibly bring resolution to this current controversy. Those are good questions. The following is my response.

I am only responding to actions the mayor has publicly taken that are in opposition to the expressed will of the overwhelming majority of people who live in the Houston area.

You may want to go to the freedom to marry website which is what Mayor Parker stood with the other mayors advocating for in Washington, DC. There are many news stories regarding this with quotes from the mayor. She knew exactly what she was advocating for and that it was against the expressed will of the overwhelming majority of the people she herself said she was elected to represent.

This is one local news quote among many... "In the first two months of her second term, Parker helped deliver a call by mayors nationwide for the legalization of same-sex marriage, proclaimed Valentine's Day as Freedom to Marry Day in Houston and said on cable radio that President Barack Obama needs to "evolve" toward support of marriage equality."

Her actions were not as a private citizen. They were as the mayor of Houston, Texas. She is the official voice of our city. As that voice, she should represent the will of the people when she speaks or acts as the mayor. That is a reasonable request.

When she takes the kind of actions that she has, I can simply say and do nothing and bemoan what is happening to what the Scripture holds dear. I can speak to the church about it, which I should do. I then have to decide if my place in the community as a spiritual leader demands that I not be silent on issues of this importance in the public square. If I am...actions like the Mayor's will not be answered or challenged. Regarding this issue... those who are attempting to normalize what God will not honor and may in fact be the last straw before He gives us over to ourselves, are counting on the silence of the pulpit in the public square. They don't care why the pulpit is silent...only that it is. When that happens on matters that are first spiritual by their nature and only made political as a means to an end, the body of the people who are desperately wanting authentic spiritual leadership to stand and lead will not have a voice or representation or any leadership. This is way more than something individual. It is about a corporate voice, a corporate stand, a united effort to retain what God has instituted and called all to honor and obey. I am not speaking out because I have a need for attention or desire to be seen as the leader of the cause. I must speak out. This is my day and on my watch. That demands that I speak out and not be silent. What is of God and is to be Godly that is an example to my children and grandchildren on my part demands it. Because I am a spiritual leader and have been called a community leader by many including the mayor, that leadership demands that I speak out on foundational issues so the community will at least consider what God has said. Because my pastoral call from God also carries a prophetic call to be a voice to the culture, actions as the mayor has taken to rule against God’s clear directive and the expressed will of the people demand that I confront those actions.

I think all spiritual leaders would acknowledge that to live within proper boundaries in life requires respect and honor for what is right. It will also require acknowledgement of and a healthy respect for the consequences when I am tempted to make choices that would violate those boundaries. The mayor needs to understand there are consequences for her actions. Again, I am only responding to actions she has taken.

I have been asked what I thought could bring this to some resolution. Here are my thoughts...A prepared statement should be read to the media by the mayor stating that while she is the mayor of Houston Texas she will support the overwhelming vote of the people of the Houston area who strongly approved of the 2005 amendment to the constitution of the State of Texas defining marriage as between one man and one woman. During her term as mayor, she will not use her position or title or identification as mayor in any manner either explicit or implied or associated with, any statement, meeting, organization or legislation that would not be fully supportive of the 2005 Texas constitutional amendment defining marriage.

The above is all I asked her to do in my letter and have repeated as often as I have had the opportunity to do so. You may go to grace.tv and read or view how I have publicly answered the comments made by Mayor Parker and others.

As far as her or others talking about her free speech, she does not have to be the mayor. But if she wants to be the mayor, it should be serving the voice and will of the people who have spoken resoundingly.

I would again ask all pastors to write or email the mayor, city council members, and other elected officials and ask them to issue a public statement expressing where they stand on traditional marriage. Do you support the definition of marriage as expressed in the constitutional amendment of 2005 defining marriage as between one man and one woman? YES or NO? That is a fair question and the people have a right to know.

Respectfully,

Steve Riggle
Senior Pastor
Grace Community Church
Houston Texas

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Subject: The Mayor's Right To Free Speech.............MY VIEW



With my calling for Mayor Parker to honor the expressed will of the people of Houston who by a 72% vote declared that traditional marriage between one man and one woman would be their official definition of marriage, (Texas constitution amended in 2005) I have been asked why I think she is not entitled to her right of free speech. The example of Abraham Lincoln was used as a leader who went against popular opinion in the south.

My response is as follows:
From the start of this I have made clear the mayor has a right to her views and life style, even if I disagree with that. I only asked her to represent the will of the overwhelming majority of Houston when she stands as the mayor. I would ask that everyone carefully read my letter to Mayor Parker again. (go to grace.tv to read my letter and my response to comments made by the mayor and others) I was addressing her speech and actions as the mayor. I think most everyone would agree that someone in a position subject to the will of the people might have some personal feelings and opinions that wisdom would say are best not made an issue while in that position. 'That is a personal choice that honors the values and positions of those who put you there. It does not violate a right to speak. But, if the person chooses to not honor those values and positions of the people who put them there, they would be subject to the right of the people to remove them.

In my view, with Abraham Lincoln, you had a divided nation. (north vs south) That is not the case in Texas or Harris county on this subject. (other arguments re Lincoln and the state of the union and the day could also be made) In this case of the people of Texas (76%) and of the Houston area (72%) voting to define marriage as between one man and one woman, these percentage outcomes in our day are staggering on any level, particularly on a constitutional amendment that requires broad bipartisan support to even get on the ballot. I think it is less than integral and honest to run for office and then go against the expressed will of the people when they have spoken in such an overwhelming way on a matter of this magnitude. Remember, she herself said she was proud to represent the people of Houston Texas. When she advocates for gay marriage and against the definition of marriage that the overwhelming majority of the people have approved by the arduous process of amending the constitution and she is very well aware of that when she runs for office, she is not representing the people of Houston, Texas. That would be arrogance and disregard for the will of the people by anyone's objective definition. I am only asking her to keep her word, not give up her first amendment rights. Remember, we are all only as good as our word. If you say you will uphold the will of the people and the constitution, and the people have just gone through the process of making sure that constitution represents their will and then you stand as the mayor and call for the overwhelming will of the people to be nullified and then issue a proclamation (which only the mayor can do officially) proclaiming a day that violates that very constitution, I say you are violating your word and your oath. Issuing a proclamation is an official act of the mayor. The city council members cannot do that, only the mayor. If we want to be technical, from my perspective that would be an illegal act. You are using the official power of your office to call for action that violates the constitution you pledged to uphold. Let's be clear.....she has done none of this as a private citizen.....only as the mayor. Mayor Parker wants to use the voice of her office of the fourth largest city in the nation and in the Bible Belt to advocate for a cause the people have clearly rejected for good reason. Then when she is challenged, she wants to hide behind her first amendment rights. She wants it both ways. While I fully recognize her personal first amendment rights, the mayoral office does not have those rights. The mayoral office is subject to the will of the people. The people who put her there can also remove her.....for any reason they feel is appropriate. It is the right of recall. It is what keeps "public servants" remembering what they said they would do and be. If you stop representing our voice as the people, we can recall you. That is our right. That right is every bit as important and precious to our system of government as my first amendment right to free speech. All of that to say, even as the mayor, she can and evidently will, say whatever she wants. However, if we the people don't like what she says, we can remove her. She can then still speak out, but not as our mayor.

It seemed appropriate to me (and still does) to address my deep concerns and ask Mayor Parker to honor her oath and the will of the people. I'm only asking her to honor what she said she would. I'm not asking her to give up anything, but to simply be accountable to the people who put her in office. Which incidentally, is what I have done in the two congregations I have served for almost forty years. She of course, can disagree, or ignore me which she apparently is now doing. She can use inflammatory, intimidating, and demeaning language which she and others have. She can say anything she wants to. Just as she has decided to do what she is doing, I have made a decision to call her on those actions. That is my right. I won't be ugly, but I will be very determined. I am also asking everyone who doesn't want her speaking for them as our mayor regarding how marriage will be defined to first speak up so she is aware of how they feel. ( she obviously already is aware of how the overwhelming majority of the people feel because of their expressed will by voting 72% in favor of traditional marriage) Then, if she will not listen, I will ask those same people to use their right of due process to remove her. What I am doing and will yet do is only in response to what she has chosen to do.

I've taken this long to say.....
MAYOR PARKER, YOU CERTAINLY HAVE THE RIGHT TO SPEAK.......HOWEVER, AS A CITIZEN OF HOUSTON, TEXAS, BECAUSE YOU HAVE WILLFULLY CHOSEN TO SPEAK AGAINST THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE, I'M RESCINDING YOUR RIGHT AS THE MAYOR TO SPEAK FOR ME.

THAT IS MY RIGHT!

In regard to the city council and other elected officials, I have only asked them to declare where they stand...........do you support and will you stand up for the definition of marriage as defined by the constitution of the State of Texas and supported by 76% of the vote state wide and 72% of the vote of Harris County? YES or NO? Plain and simple.......please freely speak. This is a reasonable request. We the people have a right to know!

Steve Riggle



TO ALL HOUSTON CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS:

I am copying you on my communication to Council Member Christie and the article I am responding to. Since my simple request to Mayor Parker to stand with the will of the people has caused a bit of controversy, I would appreciate it if you would read the text or watch the video of my response to comments made by Mayor Parker and others last week. Whether you agree or disagree, since you are publicly visible it might be important for you to know exactly what I have said and did not say as I did not speak with any media last week.
The text and video are available at grace.tv.

I would respectfully ask again for each one of you in some public manner to declare your support for the traditional definition of marriage as defined by the constitution of the State of Texas and approved by 76% of the voters statewide and 72% of the voters in Harris County. I'm sure you would agree that the people of Houston have a right to clearly know where you stand. Do you support the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman? Yes or No? Thank you for serving our community.

Steve Riggle

Thanks to Councilmember Brown and Sullivan for declaring your support. More of you may have also done so. I just haven't heard yet. Thanks.



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Following in reference to: http://blog.chron.com/houstonpolitics/2012/03/a-sinner-speaks/

Dear Council Member Christie,

I want to communicate with you regarding the following article since I was also mentioned in it, but not contacted about it. I have no way of knowing if you were quoted correctly. I do want to address what was stated in the article in as clear a manner as possible.

First, thank you for expressing that you disagree with the mayor on gay marriage. However, my letter to the mayor only asked her as the mayor to stand for the expressed will of the people regarding traditional marriage. I did not even mention gay marriage in my letter and in my response to the mayor and others in my message last Sunday, the only reference to gay marriage was in an article by the Chronicle that I read to the congregation regarding the election outcome on the 2005 constitutional amendment. I did not mention gay marriage in my personal remarks at all.

Respectfully, my question to the mayor and my question to you and everyone else on the Houston City Council was and remains very simple.........Do you stand for the definition of marriage as stated in the 2005 amendment to the constitution of the State of Texas that defines marriage as between one man and one woman? 76% of the voters statewide and 72% of the voters of Harris County voted in favor of that definition. When the voters approve of legislation that requires the arduous process of amending the constitution, that alone should show the importance of the matter being addressed in the minds of the voters. Added to that in this case is the massive majority by which it was approved. I think it is a very reasonable question to ask those who are elected to represent the people where they stand on issues of this importance.

You were quoted as saying you support the mayor. Again, I didn't remotely raise any question about supporting the mayor. My only question to you and to the other council members was.........What is your position on the definition of marriage as expressed by 72% of the voters of Harris County? Do you support and stand behind and will you speak up for traditional marriage as defined by the Texas constitution? Yes or No? Others may have other questions, but this was and continues to be my question.

You were quoted as talking about sinning and condemning, ( those without sin cast the first stone). The article was titled, A SINNER SPEAKS. In my letter to the mayor and my subsequent request for all city council members to declare where they stood on traditional marriage, I wasn't addressing anyone's sins.......yours or hers or anyone elses. I clearly expressed to the mayor she was entitled to her personal opinions and lifestyle choices , even if I personally disagreed. Again, I only asked her to stand up for what 72% of the voters said was important to them in amending the state constitution.

What I will respectfully and strongly disagree with you on is your statement that if fiscal problems are resolved, "the gay marriage issue won't matter".
Respectfully, you are dead wrong on that. The definition of marriage will always matter. Frankly, I hope you were misquoted on that. Would you please clarify that for me?

I know as a council member you are extremely busy. Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to this communication. I would also like for you to read the text or watch the video of my response to the comments that have been made since I wrote the letter to Mayor Parker. The text and video are on our website grace.tv. That will give you a clear understanding of what I have said and what I have not said.

Again, I respectfully ask you to publicly declare where you stand on traditional marriage as defined by the constitution of the State of Texas and approved by 72% of the voters of Harris County.

Thank you,

Dr. Steve Riggle,
Senior Pastor
Grace Community Church




Following in reference to: http://www.chron.com/default/article/Reputation-for-tolerance-gives-Houston-an-3395521.php   

RESPONSE TO THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE OP-ED ARTICLE BY ROBB TODD:

Former Council Member Robb Todd,


I wanted to respond to your comments regarding the letter I wrote to Mayor Parker. First, I was asking her to stand up for what the people of Harris County and the State of Texas had overwhelmingly expressed by the arduous process of amending the state constitution as their will regarding the definition of marriage. Since this vote outcome is staggering in today's environment which would require a broad spectrum of people from all parties to achieve a 72% favorable vote in Harris County, I would think businesses locating to our city would want to be aware that Mayor Parker's view on this is not the view of the overwhelming majority of the people of Harris County or of the State of Texas. This is not an opinion on my part, it is the simple fact.


Secondly, since all of this opportunity is before our city at this time, why would Mayor Parker go to Washington DC and make gay marriage an issue and then issue an official proclamation from her office calling for the overwhelming will of the people to be nullified? Shouldn't she as our mayor have been taking care of the business of Houston rather than intentionally participating in something she very well knows is against the overwhelming majority of the city she claims to represent? Why weren't your comments directed toward her actions that have produced whatever controversy that has come from this? Remember, I am only responding to actions and comments she has taken and made. I am simply asking her to stand up for the will of the people, nothing more.


From my perspective, your focus here is as disoriented as your facts are off regarding my office. I have never had any stuffed animals in my office and have never even shot an animal in my life, though I don't have an issue with those who do. As a matter of fact, since Hurricane Ike when my office was destroyed, I haven't even had an office. I use a common room at the church shared by many.


Regarding my tact and tone, I can only discern that you have read a few headlines but haven't taken the time to read or listen to what I have really said and how I said it. You can go to
grace.tv and read my letter and read or watch my response to the comments Mayor Parker made to the press in the week following my letter. I did not speak to any press during that week. I did however address her comments and a few others in one of the Sunday services a week later. Throughout all of this, I have been respectful, yet determined that Mayor Parker account for her comments and actions that violate the will of the people.

I know you would agree that facts are important in judging an issue. Because of that, I would respectfully ask that you correct your misstatements and become fully aware of what I have done and how I did it. It might just change your opinion and put the responsibility for whatever potential fallout might come from all of this squarely on the shoulders of Mayor Parker, where it belongs.


Respectfully,


Steve Riggle





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