The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance was rejected Tuesday after a nearly 18-month battle that spawned rallies, legal fights and accusations of both religious intolerance and demonization of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Supporters had said the ordinance would have offered increased protections for gay and transgender people, as well as protections against discrimination based on sex, race, age, religion and other categories.
Opponents focused their campaign on one part of the ordinance related to use of public bathrooms by transgender men and women that they alleged would open the door for sexual predators to go into women’s restrooms.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick released a statement that read, “I want to thank the voters in the City of Houston for turning out in record numbers to defeat Houston Prop 1 – the bathroom ordinance. The voters clearly understand that this proposition was never about equality – that is already the law. It was about allowing men to enter women’s restrooms and locker rooms – defying common sense and common decency.”
Pro-HERO group Houston Unites released a statement that read, “We are disappointed with today’s outcome, but our work to secure nondiscrimination protections for all hard-working Houstonians will continue. No one should have to live with the specter of discrimination hanging over them. Everyone should have the freedom to work hard, earn a decent living and provide for themselves and their families.
“Although Houston won’t yet join the 200 other cities that have similar nondiscrimination measures, the fight continues. We will continue telling the stories of Houstonians whose lives would be better off because of HERO – including people of color, people of faith, veterans who have served our country, women, and gay and transgender people.
“We’ve learned some important lessons, as well. We have to continue sharing our stories so that more Houstonians know what HERO is really about and aren’t susceptible to the ugliest of smear campaigns run by the opposition. And we must remember that all of us are stronger when we stand together, speaking up with one voice for protections like those in HERO, rather than allowing those who oppose fairness and equality to divide us.”