Texas lawmakers are ensuring pastors and religious freedom remain protected in the Lone star State.
The pastor protection bill that passed the House and Senate, and will become law with the governor's signature, comes after pastors in Houston were targeted last year during a lawsuit filed against the city and its lesbian mayor.
The pastors, known as the "Houston Five" by supporters, drew attention to a petition drive denied by the City of Houston and the lawsuit that followed. The petition's backers sued Houston but the city, responding to the suit, subpoenaed local pastors for copies of sermons that supported the petition or simply criticized homosexuality.
Mayor Annise Parker withdrew the subpoeanas last fall amid nationwide outcy that the pastors were victims of homosexual activism.
Jonathan Saenz of Texas Values Action says other Texas pastors are facing similar harassment, including being asked to perform same-sex marriages.
"And so that has put pastors in a very difficult position," says Saenz. "And also it causes distraction from the work that they do best, which is providing for the members of their church and being a blessing to the community."
Some texas lawmakers, anticipating that homosexual activists would make further attempts to pressure pastors, got to work.
In a press release, Saenz credits state Rep. Scott Sanford and state Sen. Craig Estes for urging the bill's passage.
Saenz says Texas legislators passed a bill that declares "government, at any level, should not and cannot be allowed to punish our clergy and churches for following their faith on marriage."