Truth a Casualty in Attacks on Dallas Nondiscrimination Ordinance

Fresh off a vote last week in Houston to repeal a sweeping nondiscrimination ordinance, religious-righters and cynical politicians have turned their guns on a similar 13-year-old ordinance in Dallas. And once again they’ve decided that the truth won’t be an obstacle.

Back in 2002, the Dallas City Council added to the City Code an ordinance barring discrimination based on, among other characteristics, sexual orientation and gender identity. This week the City Council voted unanimously to make essentially a technical change to the ordinance, moving gender identity into its own category rather than lumping it in with sexual orientation. The change added no new protections or enforcement provisions to the ordinance.

Almost immediately, however, the right-wing group Texas Values (an affiliate of Colorado-based Focus on the Family) shrieked that the City Council had approved a “bathroom bill.” The group’s gay-obsessed president, Jonathan Saenz, repeated the same misleading propaganda about sexual predators in women’s bathrooms that was used to repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. Moreover, he claimed that the council took the vote in a “closed door meeting” and “without public input.”

None of that is true. First, the council did not pass a new nondiscrimination ordinance or anything that substantively changes the existing ordinance. Moreover, there have been no cases in which men have used that ordinance — in its 13-year history — to enter public restrooms to harass or assault women. None of the scores of other cities and states that have passed similar measures have reported such problems either. In fact, extremists like Saenz have been unable to point to even a single example of someone misusing a nondiscrimination law to harm a woman or anyone else in a public bathroom.

In addition, the Dallas City  Council did not act in secret. The vote came in an open meeting after a year of public discussion. In fact, the process began after 77 percent of Dallas voters in November 2014 approved an amendment to the City Charter that included protections for city employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity. So Dallas voters have clearly shown that they support these nondiscrimination protections.

Even so, some state politicians have been repeating the lies promoted by Texas Values. Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who helped fund the effort to repeal the Houston ordinance, falsely claims that the Dallas City Council acted hastily and without public input.  State Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, has made the same false accusation. And they’re both echoing the same ugly and misleading scare tactics about men in women’s bathrooms. (Huffines has posted on his website a petition calling for repeal of the nondiscrimination protections.)

Jared Woodfill, the odious former chair of the Harris County Republican Party who led efforts to repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, is also getting in the game. Woodfill is calling on the Texas GOP to move its 2016 state convention from Dallas to Houston. No doubt, Woodfill hopes the issue will help his campaign to be elected chair of the state party.

But supporters of the Dallas nondiscrimination ordinance are pushing back hard against the lies. On Thursday, Jonathan Saenz repeated those lies on Glenn Beck’s The Blaze network. But Dallas City Councilmember Philip Kingston, also appearing on the show, didn’t let Saenz get away with it:

“That’s just flat false. That’s a lie. You’re just making stuff up at this point. Also false. That’s like 100 percent made-up. That’s crazy.”

Kingston is right. It has become entirely clear that supporters of discrimination will say anything — regardless of the truth — in their efforts to promote fear and hate toward LGBT Texans.

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  • I hate to state the obvious to some: this is a very successful tactic one of the most successful Conservative Christians used … Hitler!

    I know many say u loose any arguement when u bring up his name, but I challenge anyone to find real quotes of his, and remove the words “Jew” or any derivative of that word, and place LGBT, Muslim, or any minority today, and you skin will crawl at how it sound exactly like Conservative Christians today!

  • Beverly Margolis says:

    It has been proven over and over again that sexuality is set prior to birth and there is NOTHING that can change it.
    A question I ask bigots is “When did you decide to be straight?” They invariably reply “What do you mean?”
    I tell them “just that, you did not make a decision to be what you are, it just happened, what makes you think that gays and others make a decision to be how they are?”
    When I was a school girl I thought that boys were the most disgusting things on the planet, they had cooties all over them. Then one day…WOW! Where had all the cooties gone? They were cute! Did I make that decision? Nope. It just happened the same way that it happens to gays and trans people. That means that our brains are pre-programed to be what they are and there is nothing that can change our orientation.
    In all my life, and I’m going to be 75 next month, I have never seen a man in any lady’s room.
    The ignorant funny-mentalists are so afraid of gay men that it isn’t funny. It is depressing that those people still exist. However, they are on the way out. They will never be totally out but…there will always be those knuckle draggers out there who are proud of their ignorance.

  • Beverly Margolis says:

    I wonder why they target men in a woman’s room and not vice-versa.
    When I was helping a friend in his janitorial business because he had hurt himself, I had to clean the restrooms both male and female. It was fascinating to see urinals that men use; I’d never seen one before.
    Those religious morons managed to scare the majority of Houstonians into voting against the HERO law won because methinks that the voters stayed home. I hate to think that Houston is filled with morons.

  • Penny Hammack says:

    Notice that these bozos are all men. I wonder what they think (or wish) goes on in a women’s restroom. Maybe they should take a tour because a woman’s restroom has individual stalls that prevent anyone else from seeing her do what women do, unlike the urinals in men’s rooms. I believe this is all about getting and staying in power and has nothing whatsoever to do with protecting the female sex.

    • Beverly Margolis says:

      Men are also the nuts who are opposed to abortion. To hell with what the needs of a mere woman are.
      The anti-abortion bunch are pro-fetus, not pro-life. The moment a fetus ceases to be a fetus-by being born-all interest in the child’s well being is gone. To hell with the child, let it starve to death or die by exposure to the elements. The “right to life” creeps do not give a damn.
      So let’s start calling them what they are: Pro Fetus groups.
      A friend of mine discovered that her fetus would die almost on birth. She tried to abort it. She was denied help and sure enough, the fetus did not take so much as a breath; it was dead.
      So she sued the group that forced her to go though the emotions she had to go through and all of the medical bills that she had to pay.
      She won and that group was shut down permanently.
      She is only one of thousands that have had this forced on her.
      I’ve been pro-abortion since Roe V Wade was decided. Since 99.5% of all objections to abortion are religious, their objections should fall on deaf ears because of the first amendment.

  • Amazed says:

    Is all this over use of a public restroom like some would have us believe? I know many kept calling the Houston vote the Bathroom Bill.

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