The "Houston Equal Rights Ordinance" (HERO) battle lasted a year in which the city was taken to court and the lengthy arguments resulted in an order for a city-wide referendum in November 2015. The measure was rejected by a 61- to 39-percent vote, killing the ordinance. (Pat Sullivan/AP photo)
After Houston rejected similar measures three years ago, churches in Austin may be forced to hire homosexual and transgender pastors and ministers due to a city ordinance.
Ground zero in the turmoil because of non-discrimination reforms that fail to protect religious and moral objections to sinful lifestyles has shifted to Austin.
The city's leaders passed an employment discrimination ordinance much like 2015's "HERO" measure in Houston, prohibiting decisions against hiring based on sexual orientation and gender identity in addition to other reasons.
The ordinance provides no limit to enforcement against churches that decide against hiring of homosexuals and transsexuals on moral and religious grounds.
Not even pastoral and other leadership positions at churches are excluded from possible city oversight and regulatory management in the capital of Texas.
Dozens of Texas churches that are members of the U.S. Pastor Council (USPC) are represented by a federal lawsuit filed earlier this month, following the Houston pattern of possibly a long battle in the courts.