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Challenge To Houston Equal Rights Law Gets January Court Date, No November Referendum

However, Mayor Annise Parker has not changed plans to suspend implementation of the ordinance, which includes LGBT non-discrimination protections.

Opponents of Houston’s new equal rights ordinance, or HERO, withdrew their motion for a temporary restraining order on the law in court Friday, ending the possibility of a repeal referendum on the upcoming November ballot, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Critics of the ordinance, which includes includes protections for LGBT people against discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations, took the city to court after officials determined the opponents had failed to collect enough valid signatures to qualify the referendum for the ballot.

At that time, Mayor Annise Parker, who spearheaded the passage of the HERO in the city council in May, told reporters she would suspend implementation of the ordinance “to allow for these issues to work their way out.” When reached by phone, Parker’s spokeswoman Janice Evans told BuzzFeed that hasn’t changed.

“As of right now, there are no plans for that,” Evans said. “If she’s going to change her mind, she will change her mind.”

State District Judge Robert Schaffer scheduled a hearing in the case for Jan. 19, 2015. A separate court, Houston’s 14th Court of Appeals, on Friday too dealt a blow to opponents by denying a request to force the city secretary to validate signatures on the petition, which would trigger the referendum they sought, according to the paper.

Houston City Attorney David Feldman said Aug. 4 that out of the tens of thousands of signatures opponents submitted for their petition, only about 15,200 were found to be valid — short of the 17,269 signatures required to bring the matter before voters in November.

Since opponents first threatened court action against the ordinance, Parker has maintained the city would prevail in court.

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