It appears that the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance has survived an attempt to be forced onto the ballot. According to City Secretary Anna Russell, opposing forces to the new law did not successfully attain the over 17,000 signatures needed to require a referendum. According to Janice Evans in the Mayor’s office (via Twitter), the city was able to verify only 15,249 signatures of those turned in.
Even before the H.E.R.O.’s final passage, opponents had begun to organize in the effort to defeat the law. From those with the HOUequality group, an independent community effort that was also checking petitions separately from the City Secretary, it was clear that some pages had to be thrown out because their collection dates were before the law was signed by the Mayor. In other cases, people printed their name and then didn’t sign, or their information was illegible. Another issue seen by the independent group was that petition collector were not City of Houston voters. These are just a couple of reasons that municipal officials likely invalidated petition pages.
“There are simply too many documents and irregularities to overlook. The petition is invalid.” City Attorney Feldman said.
“Clearly the majority of Houstonians were not interested in a repeal process.” said Houston Mayor Annise Parker.
However, the Mayor also said that implementation of the ordinance will be delayed, as further legal challenges are anticipated.
UPDATE: Here is a statement from the group Equal Rights Houston…
Opponents of equal rights failed to submit the required number of valid petitions for one reason and one reason only: Houston is a city that doesn’t discriminate. Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance modernized our nondiscrimination laws in a balanced way with the support of the broadest coalition of Houstonians – from the Greater Houston Partnership to the NAACP, Rice University, LULAC, the GLBT Caucus, the League of Women Voters, the Houston Chronicle, public safety professionals and faith leaders. The Equal Rights Houston campaign will defend against any attempts, whether in the courts or at the ballot box, to overturn the basic, common sense protections the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance provides to all who live and work in our great city.