Surrounded by members of the community who are impacted by the ordinance, Mayor Annise Parker announced today that the City will mount a vigorous effort to defend Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance from being repealed.
“The Houston I know does not discriminate, treats everyone equally and allows full participation by everyone in civic and business life,” said Mayor Parker. “We don’t care where you come from, the color of your skin, your age, gender, what physical limitations you may have or whom you choose to love. I am confident voters will soundly defeat any challenge to the ordinance.”
A total of 17,269 valid signatures are required to place the referendum on the November ballot. The City Secretary has until August 4, 2014 to complete the validation process. No signature may be older than 30 days prior to today’s date.
The deadline for a City Council vote to place the referendum on the ballot is August 18, 2014.
Since City Council approval of the ordinance in May, opponents and the uninformed have been spreading a lot of misinformation. Bathrooms have been the subject of the most heated discussion. Mayor Parker stressed that there is no mention of the use of bathrooms in the ordinance. “Let’s be clear, this in no way grants men the unfettered right to access women’s bathrooms or locker rooms,” said Parker. “It is simply not true and I know Houstonians are wise enough to see through the misrepresentations and exaggerations.”
Under city law, it is illegal for anyone to knowingly and intentionally enter any public restroom designated for the exclusive use of the sex opposite to such person’s sex with the permission of the owner or another supervisor for the calculated purpose of causing a disturbance.
“I sponsored the Equal Rights Ordinance because I believe all people deserve to be treated fairly and equally and protected from discrimination,” said Houston City Council Woman Ellen Cohen. “I led the Houston Area Women’s Center for 18 years – working to eliminate sexual and domestic violence against women. This law protects women and girls – and does absolutely nothing to put their safety at risk.”
HERO prohibits discrimination in employment, public accommodation and housing on the basis of sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity or pregnancy.
More than 80 current and former elected officials, community organizations and nonprofit groups have endorsed HERO. It had the backing of the Greater Houston Partnership, the NAACP, Rice University and the Houston Association of Realtors. The support was broad-based and diverse.
The haters claim to have turned in 50,000 signatures. The one thing I can tell you for sure is that as these are public records, they will be scrutinized very closely.
Also from the inbox:
HOUSTON – The Equal Rights Houston Committee, representing a broad coalition of businesses, faith leaders, community organizations, teachers, medical professionals, public safety leaders, elected leaders and neighbors across Houston, announced its intention today to defend Houston’s landmark Equal Rights Ordinance against an attempt by opponents to repeal it.
Houstonians can join the campaign at www.EqualRightsHouston.com.
Mayor Annise Parker said:
“If opponents of equal rights succeed at putting a referendum on the ballot, we will forcefully defend the Equal Rights Ordinance and make sure that Houston stays a place where everyone can work hard, provide for our families and give our kids the opportunity for a better life. That’s why a diverse coalition from the Greater Houston Partnership to the NAACP to LULAC to more than 70 faith leaders across Houston worked to support this ordinance.”
Councilmember Ellen Cohen said:
“I sponsored the Equal Rights Ordinance because I believe all people deserve to be treated fairly and equally and protected from discrimination. I led the Houston Area Women’s Center for 18 years, working to eliminate sexual and domestic violence against women. I can say with certainty that – despite misinformation being spread by opponents of the law – the Equal Rights Ordinance protects and empowers women and families.”
Rudy Rasmus, Sr. Pastor of St. John’s United Methodist Church, said:
“As a humanitarian and community servant with ongoing efforts both globally and in my hometown of Houston, Texas, it is important that I support communities working to build equality. I stand for equality, dignity, and respect to be provided to all people. I support Mayor Parker’s efforts to fulfill the mission of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to support fair and equal treatment of all people.”
Lou Weaver, Houston LGBT Community Leader, said:
“African American Houstonians, Disabled Houstonians, LGBT Houstonians, Hispanic Houstonians, Asian American Houstonians, Houstonians from anywhere. We’re all Houstonians – and we deserve the dignity, respect and honor that proud name carries. I am a proud transgender man; I was designated female at birth, but I’ve lived as a man for the past seven years. I want to work hard, earn my way, provide for my family and not live in fear of being fired for reasons based on who I am or who I love and have nothing to do with my job performance. Every Houstonian deserves that opportunity.”
About the Ordinance
The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance – often called HERO – modernizes our laws and strikes a balance. It provides a quick and inexpensive local tool to protect hard-working employees from being fired or discriminated against by a boss or manager who doesn’t do the right thing. And it lets businesses hold all employees to the same professional standards.
The comprehensive ordinance protects Houstonians from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity or pregnancy. Exemptions are provided for religious organizations and small businesses. A copy of the ordinance can be viewed at: www.houstontx.gov/equal_rights_ordinance.pdf
To view a list of suporters and learn more, visit www.EqualRightsHouston.com.
The embedded image from this post is from www.EqualRightsHouston.com. Go visit and like their Facebook page. I’m posting this now because I plan to (mostly) take tomorrow off, but you can believe I’ll be all over this going forward, staring with an updated story on Saturday. Happy Fourth of July, and get ready to join forces against this monstrous attempt to move Houston backwards.