HOUSTON Sharing the message of praise Sunday at Houston s Grace Community Church was another message: Mayor Annise Parker should stop supporting gay marriage.
So a man will leave his father and mother and will be united with his wife, Pastor Steve Riggle told his congregation, quoting scripture.
He also quoted Texas law defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
And in a letter read from the pulpit, Riggle called for Mayor Parker to resign if she did not support traditional marriage.
If you will not do that, I once again ask you to do the honorable thing and step down, said Riggle.
Insisting his message was not one of politics but moral values, Riggle criticized the mayor s stance.
Annise Parker is the nation s first openly gay mayor of a major U.S. city.
Last month, Parker joined more than100 mayors, including several from Texas, who support gay marriage.
I m just one of the mayors saying exactly the same thing and we have the same rights that everybody else does to speak our mind about things, Parker told KHOU 11 News in February.
Today Mayor Parker issued a similar statement in response to Pastor Riggle s sermon.
Houston is a city supportive of equal rights and tolerant of opposing opinions a city where individuals may disagree with one another without being personal, said Parker. I am standing with 160 mayors, including other Texas mayors, who have taken the same public position.My focus remains on creating jobs and building a safer city.
Riggle argues the mayor broke a promise because she swore to uphold Texas law, which includes the Defense of Marriage Act.
Parker s supporters say she is being a leader.
This is overblown about nothing, said Noel Freeman, the Houston Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Political Caucus President. The mayor is entitled to express her opinion just like Rick Perry was entitled to express his personal opinions when he came to Houston and held a family values summit.
As for Grace Community Church, the worshippers supported their pastor s stance. Steve English attended Sunday s service. He said the message isn t about hate.
We re just saying, Hey we love you guys, said Steve English. We re not against anybody, but God s the one saying it s not right. Going back to the mayor .... he (Pastor Riggle) is not saying anything to her personally. It s simply the people of Texas have spoken that marriage is between a man and a woman and you re advocating against that.
It s an issue that had Pastor Steve Riggle drawing a line in the sand or in this case, literally, in the pulpit. He threw out a rope across the floor and said, Stand up and declare we are on the side that God has declared.