Bullies lose, sanity wins in Houston: There will be no man parts in the ladies room

The bullies lost.

After a nearly 18-month slugfest,  Houston’s LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance was crushed in a landslide defeat Tuesday – rejected by 61 percent of voters.

“The people of the city have spoken and they have spoken loudly,” Houston pastor Steve Riggle told me.

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The nation’s fourth largest city sent a clear message to City Hall: men who identify as women are not welcome in the ladies room.

Just because you believe in the traditional definition of marriage does not make you a rightwing homophobic bigot. Enough is enough.

“Their message was clear and strong for religious liberty and for the dignity of each unique human being made in the image of God,” Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd told me.

While it was a good night for religious liberty, it turned out to be a bad night for the city’s openly lesbian mayor.

Democratic Mayor Annise Parker and her minions had bullied and intimidated the city’s Christian community for months. Her administration went so far as to issue subpoenas against five pastors – demanding they turn over their sermons to the government.

The pastors came to be known as the “Houston 5” – and their plight generated a massive outpouring of support from around the nation.

Riggle, the pastor of Grace Church, was one of the pastors ordered to turn over his sermons – a demand he ignored.

“If we had to go to jail over that, we would have,” he told me. “We didn’t have any problem with the mayor having our sermons – but we were not going to do it under the mandate of the court.”

In spite of the loss, Mayor Parker remained defiant and blamed the defeat on a “small, very determined group of right-wing ideologues and the religious right.”

“They only know how to destroy and not how to build up,” she said in remarks reported by Associated Press.

Riggle said the landslide victory should send a message to the rest of the nation.

“People are fed up,” he told me. “We’re fed up with being threatened and intimidated. It’s time for people across the nation to stand up and say we’re not taking this anymore.”

The head of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination echoed that call.

“Religious liberty and social issues matter to the people of America,” Floyd said. “I encouraged all politicians and both major political parties to take notice.”

We the People are tired of having a radical agenda forced upon our families. We the People are tired of the bullying and the harassment. We the People are tired of being marginalized.

Just because you believe in the traditional definition of marriage does not make you a rightwing homophobic bigot. Enough is enough.

What happened in Houston proves a point I made in my book -- "God Less America." When people of faith stand together -- with one voice -- they can facilitate change.

That’s a lesson worth remembering in 2016.