• Source: The Bishop/Twitter
  • Houston May Have A New HERO Before Mayor Annise Parker Leaves Office In January

    But She Vows Not To Support Any Transgender Exemptions

    Houston could have a new Equal Rights Ordinance before the end of the year. 

    Mayor Annise Parker, who’s term-limited after six years in office, said Wednesday it’s possible the City Council will approve an amended HERO before she steps down in January. 

    The original version of HERO, approved by the council 11-6 in May 2014, was resoundingly repealed by voters on Tuesday following an 18-month legal battle. 

    “Several council members have talked to me about bringing it back up, perhaps bringing it back up in segments, such as the nondiscrimination in employment and housing and public accommodations separately, so that we could directly deal with those aspects of the ordinance,” Parker said at her weekly press conference. “There may be other ideas.

    “It’s possible for us to do something,” Parker added. “You may have noticed that I’m trying to clear as many things off my desk as possible. I don’t really want to leave a lot of contentious items for the next administration, and I’m going to try not to leave this one as well.” 

    HERO would have prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and 13 other characteristics in employment, housing, public accommodations and city contracting. However, opponents built their entire campaign around one aspect of the ordinance — transgender protections in public accommodations — seizing on the debunked myth that it would lead to sexual predators preying on victims in women’s restrooms. 

    Other Texas cities have passed nondiscrimination ordinances with exemptions for restroom use by transgender people, but Parker doesn’t intend to let that happen on her watch in Houston. 

    NEW: Tweet Of The Day: Houston Mayor Annise Parker Responds To A Tea Party 'Texan 4 Liberty'

    “I cannot support anything that would remove any of the 15 protected categories,” she said. “They were in there because they need the protections that HERO has to offer. 

    “What is more fundamental than trying to provide access to a public restroom that is appropriate to the gender of an individual, when all they want to do is use the facilities and go on about their business?” she added. “All of this about pedophiles going into women’s restrooms was an out and out and falsehood, they knew it was a falsehood, and they sold a bill of goods. That’s all I can say. Masterfully played.” 

    Any consideration of a new HERO would include discussion of the negative economic impacts brought by voters’ decision to repeal the ordinance, Parker said. Although the NCAA and NFL announced Wednesday they have no plans to move the 2016 Men’s Final Four or the 2017 Super Bowl out of Houston, respectively, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin has requested an emergency meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss the issue. 

    Meanwhile, Houston business and tourism officials are already raising concerns about the impact of the vote on the city’s reputation and their ability to recruit young talent. 

    “It’s the business community that has spoken loudly in Indiana and Arizona, and it’s the business community that’s going to speak here,” Parker said. “We will also of course evaluate what the national and international response from the business community is, because that certainly will make a difference.” 

    Although HERO opponents seized upon the transgender bathroom myth, it’s clear this was merely a smokescreen for general opposition to LGBT rights, and they likely would oppose an amended ordinance even if it deals only with employment or housing. 

    Jared Woodfill, a spokesman for the anti-HERO Campaign for Houston, told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday night that he doesn’t think gays and lesbians should be protected against discrimination.  

    “I think they should be treated as everyone else,” Woodfill said. “I don’t think they should receive special protections. I don’t think homosexuality is an immutable characteristic.”

    Game on. 

    You can download Mayor Parker's full November 4 press conference.


    Image by The Bishop/Twitter

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    • commented 2015-11-06 12:00:02 -0500
      Idle Question for Mayor Parker: What part of “No” don’t you understand?

    • commented 2015-11-06 00:07:57 -0500
      One amendment: I wouldn’t discuss it, even if they asked. It’s none of their f*kkin business.

    • commented 2015-11-06 00:06:29 -0500
      “I’ve never hid the fact that I’m gay, but I’ve never announced it out loud to anyone, unless I’m asked and I’ll be truthful.”
      Perfectly reasonable. What you do after hours is your business and no one else’s. I don’t discuss my private life w my colleagues either. That’s part of being a professional, in my view. And I carefully stay out of the lives of my own employees.
      “I’ve been denied housing, and lost two jobs.” So has just about everyone. You didn’t say (even if you implied it) that it was because of an irrelevancy like your sex life. Even if it was, an employer who fires a profitable employee because of that is self defeating and will soon enough go out of business. You would do well to join a competitor and expedite that process, if you’re good at your job. As for housing, that’s stupid too. Both sellers and landlords, aren’t they acquisitive and just out for the almighty dollar? Why would they deliberately reduce demand for their product?
      It mystifies me that entrepreneurs are simultaneously scorned for being greedy and grasping, and then excoriated for being bigots; the two cosmologies are not compatible.

    • commented 2015-11-05 23:07:11 -0500
      There was no hate or ignorance displayed in Houston on election day. There was plenty leading up to it on the part of people who blindly attacked religious people, not to mention anyone with any common sense. Fortunately, the good people of Houston exercised their common sense with power of the vote, setting an example for the rest of us.

    • commented 2015-11-05 19:43:35 -0500
      Jared Woodfill: The saging naked face of hate and ignorance in Houston.

    • commented 2015-11-05 17:40:35 -0500
      @scott, of course there’re cases of discrimination, you just may not know, or hear about such cases. There aren’t “massive epidemics of discrimination” but they are out there, everywhere. Everywhere I’ve lived, I’ve experienced some type of discrimination in some way. I’ve never hid the fact that I’m gay, but I’ve never announced it out loud to anyone, unless I’m asked and I’ll be truthful. Where I live, and have worked, there were never any type of non discrimination laws, and I’ve been denied housing, and lost two jobs. There was no recourse, and there still isn’t. And now where I live, it’s a right to work state, with new RFRA laws, so they don’t even need a reason to fire someone now. I also believe that the government can do more than one thing at a time, so putting this back into motion is not a waste of time, at least it isn’t to the LGBTQI community.

      @emily, more than one. ;-)

    • commented 2015-11-05 17:08:25 -0500
      Since laws exist to fine, imprison, or kill those who violate them, people arguing for legal change should demonstrate two important points in this case:
      Where is the massive epidemic of discrimination in Houston to justify this new law? And, if there are existing cases of discrimination, do existing federal and state laws offer no remedy?
      My experience living in Houston is “There isn’t” and “Plenty of recourse.” This is a distraction and a waste of time for a city with much bigger problems.

    • commented 2015-11-05 16:47:53 -0500
      Gonna refine that category to:
      “undisclosed private behaviors”

      That might fly without meeting insurmountable opposition.

    • commented 2015-11-05 16:15:27 -0500
      I agree, Emily – troll. lol

    • commented 2015-11-05 16:09:58 -0500
      One solution to respecting all persons would be prohibiting discrimination against a person on the basis of their private behaviors. Of course, publicizing them would make them no longer private and remove them from protected status. That would only work for people who had a genuine interest in getting along. All too often, the priority is getting in somebody’s face.

    • commented 2015-11-05 15:00:27 -0500
      LOL troll

    • commented 2015-11-05 14:30:09 -0500
      All of these categories are valid- with the exception of the spurious categories of sexual orientation and gender identity that the voters wisely rejected.. Reintroducing them would be an exercise in deceased equine abuse.

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