Houston Equal Rights Ordinance WILL See 2015 Ballot

Just over 1 year ago, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance faced a contentious vote to be approved by City Council.  At that time, opponents questioned the need for local protections against discrimination, and even promoted blatant lies about the law regarding restroom usage.  After hours of debate and impassioned stories, HERO was passed.

But the drama and legal challenges continued, all of which (thus far) have now lead up to today’s Council meeting.  As Katherine Driessen of the Houston Chronicle reports, HERO now faces voters for the 2015 election…

City Council voted to affirm Houston’s equal rights ordinance Wednesday, a move that will send the law to voters in November per a Texas Supreme Court ruling.

City Council voted 12-5 to leave the law in place, with Councilmen Dave Martin, Oliver Pennington, Michael Kubosh, Jack Christie and Councilwoman Brenda Stardig voting to repeal the ordinance. A Texas Supreme Court ruling issued last month ordered the city to either repeal the ordinance or put it on the November ballot.

“All we’re saying by this is that everyone should have an equal opportunity to equal rights,” Councilwoman Ellen Cohen said.

City Council approved the equal rights ordinance 11-6 in May 2014. The ordinance bans discrimination based not just on sexual orientation and gender identity – the flash points for opponents – but also, as federal laws do, sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, disability, pregnancy and genetic information, as well as family, marital or military status. The ordinance applies to businesses that serve the public, private employers, housing, city employment and city contracting. Religious institutions are exempt. Violators can be fined up to $5,000.

“Let the people vote!”  was the unending battle cry and singular for HERO opponents, as was evidenced at I Stand Sunday— the worldwide telecast which thrust the Houston Area/Texas/US Pastor Council into international fame and almost certain fortune.  In today’s vote by City Hall to place HERO on the ballot, it’s safe to assume that anti-equality leaders have gotten what they want.

But if one assumes as much, they probably little the need for fame and attention… once you get it, you only want more.  So it’s no surprise that the Pastor Council has planned an onslaught of lawsuits against the city, including suing for the legal fees they chose to incur thus far.

Texas Leftist will have more on the Pastor Council(s) soon.


U.S. 5th Circuit Appeals Court Overturns Texas Voter ID Law

When originally passed by Governor Rick Perry and the staunchly Republican, staunchly CONservative (and it must be said, staunchly white, privileged and male) Texas Legislature of 2011, lawmakers in Austin’s pink dome had set out to do one thing… create one of the strictest Voter ID laws in the history of the United States.  Their goal with the law was to discourage voting by any and all disadvantaged classes at every possible measure.  So much so that even supporters of the concept of Voter ID laws took a look at Texas, and decided our law was a bridge too far.

Thus was the case with today’s ruling from the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, who sided with the Obama Administration  and overturned the state’s ridiculous Voting restrictions.  Here’s the main story from the Associated Press (via the New York Times)…

AUSTIN, Texas — A federal appeals court struck down Texas’ voter ID law on Wednesday in a victory for the Obama administration, which had taken the unusual step of bringing the weight of the U.S. Justice Department to fight new Republican-backed mandates at the ballot box.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the 2011 law carries a “discriminatory effect” and violates one of the remaining provisions of the Voting Rights Act — the heart of which was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013.

Texas was allowed to use the voter ID law during the 2014 elections, thereby requiring an estimated 13.6 million registered Texas voters to have a photo ID.

Section 2 of the landmark civil rights law required opponents to meet a far higher threshold and prove that Texas intentionally discriminated against minority voters.

By most assessments, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is considered to be one of the most Conservative federal benches in the United States.

To those that have lived through the last several election cycles in Texas, today’s ruling shouldn’t be much of a surprise, as it really was the logical conclusion.  As I wrote in 2014, the Texas Voter ID law is in a class all its own because the state doesn’t want everyone to vote.  The law targets certain voting populations, while letting others slide.  And for those that may not have access photo ID but are extra determined to vote, Texas makes their new form of “non-ID” (used only for voting, and nothing else) very cumbersome to obtain.  Basically, Texas lawmakers have been asking for this decision, so it’s good to see that they finally got it.

Here is the link to the court’s full opinion.  

As of press time, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had yet to comment on the 5th Circuit ruling.  Understandable given he’s been busy lately trying to figure out how to keep himself out of prisonwhich seems to be taking precedence over other important business of the state.  When is he planning to resign anyway??

Texas Non-ID

This is the Election Identification Certificate, otherwise known as Texas’ non-ID.  Photo credit:  The Texas Department of Public Safety