Houston NDO Draft INCLUDES Private Employment Protections

After months of intense negotiations, the Draft of Houston’s Comprehensive Non-Discrimination Ordinance has finally arrived, with some most excellent news. Though the original language as planned (via the Mayor’s State of the City speech and several other public comments) did not include protections that extended to private employment, some important changes have been made. Directly from the Draft

AN ORDINANCE AMENDING CHAPTERS 2, 15 AND 17 OF THE CODE OF ORDINANCES, HOUSTON, TEXAS, PROHIBITING DISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF PROTECTED CHARACTERISTICS IN CITY EMPLOYMENT, CITY SERVICES, CITY CONTRACTING PRACTICES, HOUSING, PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS, AND PRIVATE EMPLOYMENT; CONTAINING FINDINGS AND OTHER PROVISIONS RELATING TO THE FOREGOING SUBJECT; DECLARING CERTAIN CONDUCT UNLAWFUL; PROVIDING FOR A PENALTY; PROVIDING FOR SEVERABILITY; AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY…

The ordinance would extend protections to all persons employed in the City of Houston regardless of sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, or pregnancy. Exemptions to this law would only be made for religious institutions, private clubs and small businesses (those with fewer than 50 employees).

So what appear to be last minute changes have significantly strengthened the law as planned. Of course it’s not been voted on by Council yet, but even having this be the Mayor’s intent is a huge step forward, and one that even a couple of weeks ago was highly uncertain. But thanks to tireless work on behalf of Houston’s Progressive community, this change is now sure to come for a vote.

Like any and all legislation, this is in itself is not a “perfect” ordinance… no such law exists. But it does represent a fundamental shift in the belief system of Houston. Through it’s passage, the city can move from a place that sanctions inequality, to a place that cares about the life, health and prosperity of all of it’s diverse citizens. Much more political horse-trading lies ahead, but for today it’s important to recognize Mayor Annise Parker and salute the courage it took to move the needle on this issue. Throughout her tenure as Mayor, Parker has shown the capacity for getting the big things done for Houston. Today is the start of a very big step forward for the 2.2 million Texans that call Houston home.

But JUST the start…

If you are a Houstonian and support this Comprehensive Non- Discrimination Ordinance, it’s now more important than ever that you call, email your elected City Council Members and voice that support!! This handy form from the Houston Stonewall Young Democrats is a great place to start. I used it, and started getting replies/ updates from Council Members immediately.

Lone Star Q and Texpatriate have more.

 

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