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Breaking: Houston Passes Wide-Reaching Non-Discrimination Ordinance

by David Badash on May 28, 2014

in Discrimination,News,Politics

Post image for Breaking: Houston Passes Wide-Reaching Non-Discrimination Ordinance

The Houston city council this evening passed an historic non-discrimination ordinance that bans discrimination 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.” Houston, a city of more than 2.1 million people and America’s fourth-largest, had been the only major U.S. city without a non-discrimination ordinance. The vote was 11-6.


City council members, led by Mayor Annise Parker (above), heard testimony from over 200 citizens supporting and opposed to the legislation, for more than ten hours. The vast majority who testified today were in support of the ordinance.

Supporters, many wearing red, called the ordinance #HERO, for Houston Equal Rights ordinance.

Opponents, mostly religious, like Pastor Ed Young, earlier had claimed the ordinance “discriminates against people, like you and me, who want to live by our own personal convictions.”

bibleOne woman (image, left) who testified today identified herself as a “life-long Houstonian” claimed that “China will become the most populous Christian nation in the world” in part because of the religious oppression she attributed to equality legislation in America. Waving the Bible and lambasting Mayor Parker for placing her “hand on the book on the day [she] took the oath of office,” she refused to stop speaking when her 60-seconds expired and disrupted the hearing.


One man who supported the legislation described the scene at the Houston airport when he returned home from a trip and gave his partner a simple kiss. A man from across the airport yelled “faggot” at him, and hundreds of people heard, he said.


Two weeks ago the vote on the ordinance was tabled. At that point, Mayor Parker, who is openly-gay, lamented the “debate is about me,” despite the ordinance protecting a wide range of people.

The Houston Chronicle this week reported that “Parker’s recent comments undercut that comprehensive message, however, as she sought to remind council members the issue is ‘intensely personal.’”

“It’s not academic. It is my life that is being discussed,” said Parker, who faced death threats and had her tires slashed as a gay activist in the 1980s. “And while we can say around this council chamber that it applies to the range of protected groups – and it does and it is right and appropriate that the city of Houston finally acknowledges a local ordinance that respects African-Americans and Hispanics and those of different religions – the debate is about me. The debate is about two gay men at this table.”

Parker added to her comments after the meeting, saying she understands how “incredibly painful” it is for gay residents to hear opponents say, “I don’t hate gay people, I don’t hate transgender people, I just ought to have the right not to let them come into my business.”

Here are some responses to today’s debate and vote:



Image, top, via Twitter

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cftxp May 28, 2014 at 9:14 pm

One of the council members, as a statement after the ordinance was passed made the remark "Mayor Parker, you're a hero", I agree!

Not only did she become the first openly gay mayor of a major city in the United States, but she also ended its streak as the largest US city without an ordinance that protects all citizens. I can't be any more proud to be a Houstonian, even if it's only because I work there! ;)

weshlovrcm May 28, 2014 at 9:42 pm

Go Houston! Today, Homophobia, Inc. suffered another humiliating defeat. Although militant anti-gay activists tried to intimidate patriotic, pro-equality Houstonians with threats of impeachment and recall, morality once again won the day! God is good!

sdfrenchie May 29, 2014 at 12:15 am

Thank you, Anisse Parker! Some day people will understand that large cities are always diverse. Houston is a beautiful city. I've only been there once but very much enjoyed my visit. The LGBT community was very friendly and festive.


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