LGBT community reels as Houston Equal Rights Ordinance rejected
One giant step for mankind and two small steps backward. That’s what it felt like for the LGBT community when Houston voted against Proposition 1 or the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (more popularly known as HERO).
The rejection of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance
The HERO is an anti-discrimination ordinance that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, given that this criteria is not covered by federal anti-discrimination laws.
In particular, this ordinance protected the LGBT community “in city employment, city services, city contracting practices, housing, public accommodations, and private employment.”
With 61 percent voting no and only 39 percent agreeing to it, the LGBT community in the fourth largest state in the US was shocked by the results. This despite the major push done by Houston Mayor Annise Parker, an admitted lesbian and a champion of Prop 1.
“I have stood here in Houston four times when people were given the opportunity to vote on my rights,” Parker declared.
“No one’s right should be subject to a popular vote. It is insulting, it is demeaning and it is just wrong,” she said.
The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance and bathroom predators
Unfortunately, HERO-bashers released a video that connected the ordinance to sexual predators. Because of this video, the HERO became the “bathroom bill.”
Likewise, the media is being blamed for not releasing enough information about the bill.
“When media outlets repeat bogus claims about ‘bathroom predators’ without fact-checking them, they lend undeserved credibility to the most toxic and ridiculous arguments against LGBT equality,” said Carlos Maza, LGBT program director at Media Matters.
“Audiences are left assuming the ‘bathroom predator’ has merits because they expect news outlet to let them know when something isn’t true,” Maza said.
Destroying the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance
Right now, more than 200 jurisdictions have anti-discrimination laws like HERO. Three of them are major Texan cities.
According to The Advocate, no sexual predator has ever pretended to be a transgender and gained access to a female bathroom. Such action would merit a criminal offense.
“They just kept spewing an ugly wad of lies from our TV screens and from pulpits,” Parker said.
“This was a calculated campaign by a very small but determined group of right-wing ideologues and the religionist-right, and they only know how to destroy, not how to build up,” she said.
Opinions on the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance
Ben Carson, one of the Republican’s presidential candidate, suggested a separate transgender bathroom, saying: “It is not fair for them to make everybody else uncomfortable.”
Democrat’s Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, tweeted: “Everyone deserves full and equal protection under the law. This is a reminder of the work still left to do.”