State Leaders Help Damage Texas Reputation as HERO Falls at the Polls on Tuesday

On Tuesday the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance went down to defeat at the polls, which means Houston remains the only major city in Texas without a comprehensive civil rights ordinance that protects against discrimination. Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s powerful statement last night is already making the rounds on the Internet.

This morning the Texas Freedom Network sent out the following press release:

The deceitful, fear-based campaign used to defeat the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance at the polls on Tuesday will seriously damage the reputation of the City of Houston and the State of Texas, Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said today.

Miller said that danger is particularly high because of the way Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick waded into the election over the local ordinance.

“It was disturbing to see our state’s two highest elected leaders shamefully peddling lies and scare tactics,” Miller said. “Their political pandering has branded Texas as hostile to basic human rights and inclusiveness. In lending the prestige of their offices to such a shockingly deceitful campaign, Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Patrick aligned themselves with some of this state’s most extreme and intolerant voices. That can only hurt the state’s reputation among anyone or any business that might want to move here.”

The rhetoric used by HERO opponents was nothing short of incendiary. At one campaign event, a major funder of the anti-HERO campaign wielded a sword while demanding that gay and transgender people be driven from Houston. Another leader declared that opponents of the nondiscrimination ordinance were fighting “the presence of evil” in Houston. But the anti-HERO campaign was based largely on a single tactic: scaring voters into thinking the nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people would allow “troubled men” and sexual predators to assault women and girls in public bathrooms.

Gov. Abbott called for the defeat of HERO, even tweeting “no men in women’s bathrooms” on Monday. In addition, Lt. Gov. Patrick helped fund the anti-HERO campaign and even appeared in a television ad featuring the “bathroom” scare.

But law enforcement and other public officials in cities and states with laws similar to HERO say they had not seen problems with sexual predators using the measures to harass or assault people in public restrooms.

Despite the setback in Houston, supporters of equality will continue to fight to protect all Texans from discrimination, Miller said.

“No one should have to live in fear of losing their job, being evicted from their home or being denied public services simply because of who they are or whom they love,” Miller said. “Texas is better than that, but it’s clear that fear remains a powerful, deceitful weapon for opponents of equality.”

The Houston Unites campaign for HERO sent out this statement last night:

The coalition partners that make up Houston Unites, including ACLU of Texas, Equality Texas, NAACP Houston Branch, Texas Freedom Network, Freedom for All Americans and the Human Rights Campaign, released the following joint statement after today’s vote.

“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.”

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  • Charles says:

    Well, when the new Republican President in early 2017 decides to launch an all out European war against Vladimir Putin and Russia for its behavior in Ukraine; along the borders of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia; and for propping up Baby Assad in Syria and by so doing supporting Iran and staking out a claim in the Middle East that American foreign policy has always held to be a solely American sphere of interest that is forever inviolable, what happened with HERO will no longer matter because dead LGBTQ people buy no groceries and order no wedding cakes. We will all be dead—and so will the Russians be—and then the cockroaches can take over where they left off back in the Pennsylvanian Period. Right Steve?

    • Charles says:

      But seriously, what is Step 2 now for the Houston Area Pastor’s Association. Do they plan to rally Christian business owners in the Houston area and urge them to start denying goods and services to LGBTQ people? No groceries. No medicine. No haircuts. What is next for this radical right group?

  • Peter Evans says:

    Hard to understand why people just do not care. Sure the ‘anti’ crowd lied. This is the price of democracy. There is no excuse for the apathy of the people. Only 260,000 voted out of 960,000 potentials. We were short by some 60,000. Those that did not vote are telling us they did not care. If just the blacks could have looked back at their own history and the nasty things which were said of them before equality this could have passed. If 700,000 people who would represent not only the oppressed but also the poor and disenfranchised cannot vote for equality as a principle then we deserve whatever we get. There were 150,000 out of 960,000 who were adamantly against and they showed up. Apart from 100,000 who believed in the proposition it is fair to say the majority just didn’t care. Sadly this does not augur well for the future of this country.

  • kristine weibel says:

    This is so incredible sad. I certainly will not be visiting anytime soon - if ever. Bigotry over the top.

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