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Watch: New TV Ad Absurdly Claims Equal Rights Ordinance Will Hurt Business



Michael Sam, Jason Collins join campaign in support of HERO

A new ad from opponents of Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance absurdly claims the law would actually hurt the city’s economy. 

In the ad from the Campaign for Houston, the narrator states the ordinance would invite lawsuits “when a customer or employee’s feelings are hurt,” and subject small businesses to fines. 

“With the threat of endless litigation, businesses will close or relocate outside the city limits, eroding our tax base and costing up jobs,” the narrator says. 

The ad, of course, flies in the face of recent history. One need look no further than Arizona or Indiana to see the potential negative economic impacts of inequality. 

In Arizona, GOP Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed an anti-gay “religious freedom” bill in 2014 after the NFL began discussions about moving the 2015 Super Bowl out of the state if the measure became law. And earlier this year in Indiana, the Center for American Progress estimated an anti-gay “religious freedom” law would cost the state $256.4 million over six years, prompting the legislature to amend the law to protect LGBT people.

And that’s precisely why groups like the Greater Houston Partnership — which is the local chamber of commerce — support the Equal Rights Ordinance. 

Bob Harvey, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership, told KPRC-TV in response to the ad that nothing is further from the truth. He said if the ordinance is repealed, national headlines of “Houston voters reject equal rights” will could be very damaging.

“We know that the ordinance is workable and enforceable and fair to business,” Harvey said. “Quite the opposite. The business community wholeheartedly supports the Equal Rights Ordinance. So the suggestion that they would leave Houston because of the ordinance is quite the opposite.

“I find this claim, like others they’re making, to be factually inaccurate,” Harvey added, apparently referencing other anti-HERO ads promoting the debunked transgender bathroom myth.

Supporters of the ordinance have expressed concern that if HERO is repealed, Houston could lose the 2016 NCAA Men’s Final Four or the 2017 Super Bowl. And 44 prominent business leaders recently signed a full-page ad in The Houston Chronicle in support of the ordinance.

The only prominent business owner who’s come out against the ordinance is Houston Texans owner Bob McNair, who contributed $10,000 to the Campaign for Houston. However, on Friday, McNair asked that his contribution be returned, accusing the Campaign for Houston of making unauthorized statements about his position on the ordinance to the media. 

“I do not believe in or tolerate personal or professional discrimination of any kind,” McNair wrote in a statement to ThinkProgress. “I also believe that we Houstonians should have an ordinance that unites our community and provides a bold statement of non-discrimination. I encourage all Houstonians to vote on November 3.”

Earlier this week, McNair was slammed for the contribution by former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe. 

On Friday, retired NBA player Jason Collins, the second publicly gay athlete to play in a major U.S. profssional sports league offered his support via Twitter:

Also on Friday, former NFL player Michael Sam added his voice to the conversation. 

“I know firsthand what it feels like to be unwelcome – to live an open and authentic life in a place where you can be ostracized or even discriminated against for simply being yourself,” Sam wrote in an email for the Human Rights Campaign. “That’s why as a Texas native I was thrilled when Houston passed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) last year … and equally disappointed when opponents petitioned for its repeal this year. … I’ve seen what the opposition is doing and it’s revolting – launching ugly ads insinuating LGBT people pose a danger to the community. They’re out in full force, trying to scare fair-minded Texans into voting against their LGBT neighbors.” 

Sam’s support for the ordinance is especially relevant since HERO also prohibits discrimination based on race. In fact, more than half of complaints filed under HERO while the ordinance was in effect were based on race. And the coalition supporting the ordinance, Houston Unites, planned a press conference Friday where black attorneys will discuss how they were recently forced to pay a cover charge at a local nightclub, while white patrons got in for free. 

“Two of the men, Brandon Ball and Dan Scarbrough, will discuss their case and how they have been forced to make a costly, federal case out of the incident because there is no local equal rights ordinance on the books,” according to Houston Unites. 



Chris Kluwe Totally Takes Down ‘Cowhumping Glue-Huffer’ NFL Owner For Financing Anti-LGBT Hate

Texas Groups Scare Voters With ‘Bathroom Ads’ Ahead Of HERO Vote

Trailing In Polls, Houston Equal Rights Opponents Continue Desperate Anti-LGBT Ad Campaign

Watch: Anti-LGBT Right Wing Group Releases Ad Promoting False, Fear-Mongering Trans Bathroom Myth

Pastor In Anti-LGBT Radio Ad Attacking Nondiscrimination Ordinance Was Fired For Sexual Harassment

Family Research Council Pushing Ridiculous Anti-LGBT ‘Bathroom Bill’ Ad (Video)



Image: Screenshot via Campaign for Houston/YouTube

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Florida GOP Lawmaker Who Wrote ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Facing Up to 35 Years After Pleading Guilty in COVID Fraud Case



Joe Harding, the now-former Florida Republican lawmaker who authored the extremist “Don’t Say Gay” bill could face up to 35 years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday afternoon to federal felony fraud charges in a scheme to obtain $150,000 in COVID-19 relief funds, according to Florida Politics‘ publisher Peter Scorsch.

Harding, 35, was a construction project manager who started his own lawn care company. He quickly became a right-wing darling after his anti-LGBTQ legislation, officially the Parental Rights in Education Act, was embraced by Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis, who signed it into law.

Harding was charged in a December federal indictment with six counts of wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements in his plot to obtain $150,000 in COVID funds.He resigned from the legislature the following day. He originally pled not guilty.

READ MORE: ‘Chilling’: Law Enforcement ‘Seriously’ Investigating Threats Ahead of Possible Trump Indictment Says Top WaPo Reporter

After Harding was charged and resigned, Nadine Smith, the executive director of Equality Florida, responded via social media, saying: “So much harm to students, parents and teachers because of his raw political ambitions. He slandered entire communities and trafficked in lie after lie that has emboldened violent bigotry. He will have his day in court but his legacy is already a despicable one.”

Harding is not the only family member accused of criminal acts.

“Harding’s indictment follows a September guilty plea from his brother-in-law, Patrick Walsh,” Florida Politics reported in December. “As reported by Fresh Take Florida, Walsh pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges connected to his receipt of nearly $8 million in disaster relief loans.”

Unrepentant to the harm many feel he has done to children and the LGBTQ community, in a statement Tuesday Harding said: “During the past legislative session I have felt the support of millions of Americans while fighting for our shared concerns and for the rights of parents. I will never forget the support I received from every corner of this great country.”

READ MORE: 18 Attorneys General Blast Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” Law as Unconstitutional

Harding will be sentenced in July.

Florida’s Voice also reported Harding’s guilty plea Tuesday.


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‘Chilling’: Law Enforcement ‘Seriously’ Investigating Threats Ahead of Possible Trump Indictment Says Top WaPo Reporter



Ahead of a possible indictment of Donald Trump, law enforcement agencies are investigating “chilling” threats, including against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, according to top Washington Post investigative reporter Carol Leonnig.

Leonnig was careful to say she is not aware of any of the threats being deemed credible, but also noted that “all sorts of law enforcement agencies” seem to be taking much more interest than some agencies did in the weeks before the January 6, 2021 insurrection.

“I have received copies and screenshots and internal documents and emails flagging concerns about specific protests, investigations into specific online threats that have been made that are not yet determined to be ‘credible and likely to occur’ but have been chilling nonetheless in terms of the threats that have been made about killing certain people,” Leonning, a Pulitzer-Prize winning author, said Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Deadline” White House.”

“Claims of, you know, ‘Alvin Bragg needs to needs to die,’ and claims online that could just be, you know, bravado, but are being seriously investigated and checked into this time around, ones that were not checked into as clearly at all in the weeks before January 6, despite significant warnings to the FBI about what these threats meant.”

Mirroring Leonnig’s reporting, Rolling Stone, citing law enforcement reports, on Tuesday noted: “Violent extremists are advocating lethal attacks and proclaiming their willingness to die for the cause.”

READ MORE: ‘All-Out War’: Trump’s Attorney Tells Kimberly Guilfoyle Ex-President Will Be ‘Loud and Proud’ When Showing Up for Indictment

“U.S. Capitol Police, the D.C. Fusion Center, and the Federal Highway Administration have all circulated warnings about the uptick in online threats over the past 48 hours. The bulletins and threat assessments detail some of the online threats and discussions about the use of specific tactics and methods for carrying out attacks — including online discussions about lethal attacks if Trump is arrested.”

On Saturday in an explosive series of social media posts Donald Trump urged his supporters to “protest” and “take our nation back.”

That “announcement was met with an immediate increase in violent online rhetoric and expressed threats toward government and law enforcement targets perceived as participating in a political persecution of the former president, as well as calls for ‘Civil War’ more generally.”

The DC Fusion Center, which analyzes threats, in a report stated it “assesses that potential criminal justice actions taken toward a former US president — or actions perceived to be taken toward the former president — remain a ‘line in the sand’ for [Domestic Violent Extremist] communities and thus have the potential to manifest in violence toward government targets or political officials,” Rolling Stone added.

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Missouri Supreme Court Refuses to Disbar Lawyer Who Sexually Assaulted Six Women: Report



An 86-year old defense attorney will be allowed to keep his law license after the Missouri Supreme Court in a 4-3 ruling refused to disbar him despite having sexually assaulted six of his clients, all women.

Attorney Dan K. Purdy will be “indefinitely suspended from practicing law but allowed to apply for reinstatement after a year,” The Kansas City Star reports.

“In September 2020, Purdy made sexual advances toward four clients in a Vernon County jail interview room, including touching and kissing, that were confirmed by video provided by the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office,” The Star reports. “Each woman was later interviewed by officers and told them Purdy’s advances were unwanted.”

In addition to jail interview roos, Purdy’s sexual advances took place in court and in his car. All were locations where his clients might have felt uncomfortable to complain.

READ MORE: Trump Calls for Congress to Investigate NY AG After Judge Refuses to Delay $250 Million Fraud Trial Against Ex-President

“Purdy’s clients either did not know or did not realize they could repudiate his sexual advances,” Justice George W. Draper III wrote in the majority opinion.

There are seven justices on the Missouri Supreme Court, four appointed by Republican governors, three by Democratic governors. Four are men, three are women.

The ruling was not along party lines.

“In my view, neither the race, gender, ethnicity, nor age of an attorney should be taken into consideration to determine appropriate discipline,” wrote Justice Zel M. Fischer in his dissent. “In my view, Mr. Purdy’s conduct, which was clearly and explicitly depicted in the video evidence, warrants disbarment.”

“As recognized by the principal opinion, not only did Mr. Purdy sexually assault six female clients, he ‘exhibited a continued pattern or practice of improper and disturbing conduct, which continued, even after the present case was filed against him,'” Fischer noted. [Bolding in original text.]


Image of Missouri Supreme Court via Wikimedia



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