After Right-wing Christian groups stoked voters' fear with purposely misleading "bathroom" ads, citizens have rejected HERO - the city's anti-discrimination ordinance.
HERO - the Houston city ordinance that would guarantee members of the LGBT community could not be discriminated against in matters of employment and housing - has gone down in flames lit by the religious right.
BREAKING: Contentious LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance in Houston fails to win approval by voters.— The Associated Press (@AP) November 4, 2015
HERO originally passed through a vote of the Houston city council, and was signed into law by the city's openly lesbian mayor, Annise Parker. But a coalition of Christian clergy and anti-gay "family" organizations began a campaign to put the measure up for a popular vote. When the petition the anti-gay groups submitted turned out not to have the necessary number of voters' signatures to get the measure on the ballot, the groups brought suit. Eventually the Texas Supreme Court ruled the Houston City Council must either rescind the law, or put it up for a vote by the citizens of Houston.
For their campaign to keep HERO from passing, the anti-gay groups decided to use a strategy that concentrated on the one element of the legislation that would allow transgender people to use the bathroom or lockerroom assigned to whatever sex they identify as. The anti-HERO groups unfairly stoked voter's fears, running TV ads insisting HERO would allow pedophiles to stalk girls in public restrooms.
"I will give full credit to the pastors and the anti-gay organizers here in Houston – they played it masterfully," Mayor Parker told Rolling Stone.
HERO had the backing of the Houston business community and Hollywood celebrities, and President Obama and Hillary Clinton both spoke out in favor of its passage, but the "bathroom fear" turned out to be a more potent argument than the forces of enlightenment could overcome.
Now, because of religious intolerance, not only gay and transgender citizens, but Blacks, Muslims, military veterans, a about a dozen other categories of people will be left unprotected against bigotry, racism, and discrimination.
"If you kill [HERO]," said Mayor Parker, you throw out all the local protection for the 13 other categories or characteristics."
Those characteristics include sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, genetic information and pregnancy.
Good going Houston. Straight white Christians will sleep better tonight knowing their privilege is protected in Houston.
Feature Image is from Equal Rights Houston via Facebook
"Bathroom" image is from Campaign for Houston via Facebook