Tag Archives: Houston Equal Rights Ordinance

U.S. Pastor’s Council’s Next Anti-Equality Stop: Dallas

Back in August, before any votes in the November elections were cast, Texas Leftist had a prediction.  Or maybe better to just call it an observation…

The “Vote NO!” arena has already been tested, and victorious.  Last fall, theUS Pastor Council produced a battle to defeat the Non-Discrimination Ordinance in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and won that battle with 53 percent of the vote.  Repeal 119 was one of the “test markets” for persecution of local non-discrimination ordinances across the United States.  Make no mistake… this is a national fight against equal rights, with Houston currently taking center stage.

If anyone had even the slightest doubt that the fight for Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance wasn’t an indicator of battles to come, this week should put those doubts to rest.  Empowered by the spoils of victory, the Equality opponents have revealed their next target.

Here’s the story from Katherine Driessen of the Houston Chronicle…

Fresh off defeating Houston’s equal rights ordinance by stoking fears about men using women’s restrooms, local conservative activists are looking to take the battle to Dallas.

The Dallas City Council this week updated its non-discrimination law to more explicitly include protections for transgender residents, a move that already is sparking much the same opposition rhetoric that engulfed Houston’s law.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who has blasted Houston’s ordinance, quickly jumped into the fray, issuing a statement: “This ludicrous ordinance, like the one in Houston, reveals officials who are totally out of touch with Texas values.”

In Houston, conservative activist Jared Woodfill said the same core group that helped defeat the ordinance here 61 percent to 39 percent will deploy similar tactics in Dallas and seek to force a repeal referendum. Woodfill’s group will help collect signatures, send letters to Dallas City Council and organize with local conservatives.

Woodfill and fellow conservatives hammered a message in Houston that the gender identity provision of the equal rights law would allegedly allow men to use women’s restrooms. Though supporters of the law said that was false and tried to broaden the conversation to include the 14 other classes protected in housing, employment and public accommodations, opponents’ tactics won out.

Though Driessen chooses to focus on Jared Woodfill, the former Harris County GOP chair who has found new political relevance through the Anti-Equality movement, it’s important to note that the real muscle in this fight lies with the Houston Area/Texas/U.S. Pastor Council, or whatever they choose to call themselves on a particular day.  Woodfill certainly offers a public face and some political contacts, but the money to fund these hateful and hate-filled campaigns is being raised by USPC congregants and their world-wide network of supporters.  And thanks to a perilous court decision by the Fifth Circuit giving churches license to do whatever they want in politics without consequence or sanction, the hate campaign is about to reach levels previously unforseen.

From the assessment of most political analysts, defeating equality measures in Dallas would be a much tougher fight than what occurred in Houston.  For one thing, the city has had transgender protections since 2002, and in all that time there have been zero incidents of malicious activity in restrooms like the LIES the opposition have described.

Because, you know… a LIE is STILL a LIE.  No matter how many ways you present it.

It’s also important to remember some basic facts about Dallas when compared to Houston.  Though the two metropolitan areas are of similar size, actual city boundaries are quite different.  Where Houston’s city limits sprawl across much of the metro, Dallas is half the size and walled in by some of the country’s largest and most powerful suburbs.  It would be like taking the city of Houston, and chopping off several of the most conservative strongholds.

But all of the logic, reasoning and truth talking… well, we already know how much the other side cares about that.  Dallas needs to know that in the reality of today’s pathetic voter turnout, anything is possible.

Y’all get ready for a fight.

Off the Kuff has more.

Dallas CC

HERO Election Results: Welcome to ‘HATE Town’?

So about last night.  Katherine Driessen of the Houston Chronicle has the formal wrap-up…

Houston voters soundly rejected the city’s embattled equal rights ordinance Tuesday in one of the most heated local political contests in recent memory that drew national scrutiny and sparked months of impassioned back-and-forth about social issues, particularly transgender rights.

The decision leaves Houston the only major city in Texas and one of the few nationwide without some form of a nondiscrimination law. It also marks the third time Houston voters have rejected protections or benefits for gay residents, as they did in 1985 and 2001.

The equal rights ordinance, known by its acronym HERO, would have extended local protections against discrimination to 15 groups, ranging from veterans to pregnant women to gay and transgender residents, with the latter proving the biggest flashpoint for conservative opponents of the law. In recent weeks, the contest played out on a national stage, drawing comments from the White House and top state officials as well as media attention from a slew of top outlets.

Critics pinned their campaign on the controversial claim that the law would allow men dressed as women, including sexual predators, to enter women’s restrooms. Opponents’ most talked-about ad featured a man bursting into a bathroom stall occupied by a young girl as ominous music played in the background.

So that’s what happened.  And here’s what you need to remember, whether you live in Houston, or somewhere else in the United States of America…

Houston , Texas is a city of 2.3 million people.  Of that robust and rapidly growing number, 1 million Houstonians are eligible to vote.

Just over 1/4th of those 1 million Houstonians showed up to vote on the Proposition 1 issue.  15.7 percent of those eligible to vote in Houston rejected HERO, and 10 percent of voters wanted to uphold it.  And getting over 1/4th turnout for an off/off-year election is considered “historically high”.

Voter Apathy folks… the struggle is real.

As was pointed out in an earlier post, even this 25.7 percent doesn’t give the best gauge of what our city actually thinks about HERO, as over half of those showing up were in the 65 or older demographic.  Voters aged 18 to 24 came in at under 2 percent of the electorate, and when combined with those 25 to 34, the two groups were still under 10 percent.   At age 59, Mayor Annise Parker herself isn’t even in the age demographic that basically made this decision.   We saw some things in 2014 that were very similar.

And by the way… many Houstonians in that 65 and up  bracket did support equality, so we definitely don’t want assume the values of everyone.  But the demographic information is important to know.

Far from being “haters”, what we had here were a lot of good-hearted, mostly Senior Citizen folks that saw egregious TV ads and reacted as to them as many would expect.  Given those facts and the very long history of equality measures being defeated when put up for a popular vote, last night’s result seems less of a surprise.

To the titular question… Houston has absolutely NOT turned into ‘Hate Town’.  More like “we’re not ready” town, and “we were the latest forced to endure the embarrassment of an equality popular vote” town.  

Until we figure out how to increase Civic Engagement for Houston, Texas and across the country, we’re going to deal with elections where good ideas and candidates are defeated by misinformation and malice.  So before we battle for a new vote, maybe it’s time to double and triple the education effort.


Greg Abbott Opposes Houston Prop1, Forgets Minor Detail

Is it a surprise that Texas Governor Greg Abbott is opposed to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance?  Not exactly, especially given his long record of being against LGBT Texans, equality in general and local control for cities.

But in his effort to stoke the flames of fear and falsehood, our esteemed Governor left out one small detail about the irony of his opposition to Houston Prop 1… his current place of residence.

Like the Lieutenant Governor, Mr. Abbott happens to reside in Austin, Texas… you know, the same city that has had comprehensive Non-Discrimination protections for its citizens since 2004.  Before being elected to his current position, Abbott served as Attorney General to the State of Texas

So umm, if the Governor and his family have resided safely in Austin for over a decade (assuming during that time that they also used restroom facilities), then why is it such an atrocity for Houston to implement similar Equal Protections?

Anytime you’d like to respond Governor, I am all ears.

Abbott Lies

Texas Leftist 2015 Endorsements

Here’s the Full List of Endorsements for the 2015 Houston Municipal Elections.  The Hyperlinks take you to the full-length endorsement page.  For more information on the candidates, check out the Questionnaire Responses, and be sure to also visit Off the Kuff’s 2015 Elections Page.


Houston Mayor
Sylvester Turner

Houston City Controller
Chris Brown

Houston City Council
At-Large Races
Position 1: Tom McCasland
Position 2: David Robinson
Position 3: Doug Peterson
Position 4 Amanda Edwards
Position 5: Philippe Nassif

District Races
District A: Brenda Stardig
District B: Jerry Davis
District C: Ellen Cohen
District D: unopposed (Dwight Boykins)
District E: unopposed (Dave Martin)
District F: Richard Nguyen
District G: Greg Travis
District H: Roland Chavez
District I: Robert Gallegos
Distrcit J: Mike Laster
District K: unopposed (Larry Green)

City of Houston Proposition 1:  Y-E-S!!!!
City of Houston Proposition 2:  No endorsement


And just to say one more time…

Like Dallas, Austin, Ft. Worth, New Orleans, hundreds of other cities and 17 states across the county, all Houstonians deserve to live in a city that does not condone discrimination.  Please vote yes to uphold the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.  Don’t believe the lies!!

Early Voting runs now until October 30th, and Election Day is November 4th.

HUEfest Mural

Photo credit:  Gary Paul Smith from Flickr


Texoblogosphere: Week of September 21st

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes everyone a happy and balanced equinox as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff stands with Ahmed.

Socratic Gadfly turns a bit of a skeptical eye to European panic over the “refugee crisis” and provides some critical analysis of how it’s being handled.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos tried her very best to watch the second GOP Presidential debate but she just couldn’t take it anymore. She hung in there for two hours and twenty minutes. GOP Presidential Debate: A Trip Back to the Twilight Zone

Tired of watching Bernie Sanders surge, Clinton surrogates grabbed the ‘socialist’ brush and started smearing him. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs is pretty certain that this is how it’s going to go until the Sanders campaign no longer represents a threat to her coronation nomination.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. It’s becoming clear that the GOP in Texas has no problem with the cuts to Medicaid therapy. They just don’t want to be blamed for it, Abbott, GOP Want Cuts, But No Blame.

Neil at All People Have Value said that Alexander Hamilton should remain on the $10 bill. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

The TSTA Blog salutes education reporter Terrence Stutz on his retirement.

Paradise in Hell annotates Donald Trump’s Texas speech, and celebrates its first year of blogging.

Texas Clean Air Matters explains why parents should care about climate change.

David Ortez reports from a Houston Mayoral forum on issues facing younger voters.

Danyahel Norris illustrates the importance of Houston’s equal rights ordinance.

Finally, the TPA congratulates Lize Burr on her new positions as Editor and Publisher of the Burnt Orange Report.



Today’s feature photo is of the Ballet Folklorico del Cielo performing in a parade at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.  Photo credit:  Esther Garcia.  

Houston Unites Campaign Ramps Up To Support Proposition 1

It’s American tradition that Labor Day marks the unofficial “end” of summer (if such a thing can exist in Houston) and the start of high campaign season.  Though there’s not a Presidential or Gubernatorial race on the ballot this year, this holds true for residents of the Bayou City.

But municipal leaders are not the only question facing area voters this November.  Last Saturday over 150 volunteers gathered at The Montrose Center to launch the field campaign to protect the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, formally known as Houston Unites.  The group is an unprecedented partnership among the ACLU of Texas, Equality Texas, Freedom for All Americans, the Human Rights Campaign, NAACP Houston Branch, the Texas Freedom Network and a bevy of political activists, public servants and volunteers.  Here’s more from the group’s website…


Houston Unites is the coalition working to elevate the diversity of voices supporting HERO. No Houstonian should be discriminated against based on race, age, military status, sexual orientation or gender identity. That’s a core value Houstonians share, and that’s why HERO’s passage a year ago was supported by more than 80 current and former elected officials, community and non-profit organizations, major corporations, and more than 70 local faith leaders.

In the most diverse city in America, we believe that everyone should be treated fairly, no matter who they are. That’s a core value Houstonians share.

Facing a mountain of money from the opposition, it’s going to take lots of hard work and dedication to energize and turn out voters who will support Proposition 1… the ballot measure which will either uphold or defeat the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.  But if the first field event was any indication, the Houston Unites group is up to the challenge.   In just a few hours, ‘HOUniters’ knocked over 1,200 doors and placed 6,000 phone calls all encouraging voters to show up on Election Day and vote Yes on Prop 1.  Even with the money disadvantage, commitment like theirs is going to be tough to beat.

This Election Day, be sure to Vote Yes on Proposition 1.  And if you’re like me and prefer to do your voting ahead of the longer lines, check out this year’s Harris County Early Voting information.  Early voting for the 2015 Elections runs from October 19th through October 30th.

But before you hit the voting booth, consider volunteering with the Houston Unites campaign.  Every hour that you can commit to knocking doors or making phone calls will bring Houston closer to having needed local protections from discrimination, and truly being the city that all Houstonians deserve.


HERO group 1

On September 5th, over 150 volunteers gathered to campaign for Houston Unites and encourage voters to vote yes on City of Houston Proposition 1.  


Houston Unites

Wait… How Many Cities Have Equal Rights Protections Just Like H.E.R.O.?

The short answer… a whole bunch.

This Fall, the city of Houston will be bombarded with campaign ads claiming false information about the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.  You know ads like this one that just hit the airwaves recently.

As Dan Solomon of Texas Monthly reports, the move shows that HERO opponents are not above lies and deceit to lure voters towards their message…

The fight surrounding Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance has been ugly since the anti-discrimination policy was proposed—and after a petition drive to put its recall to a public vote, it’s only gotten uglier. It’s involved city attorneys issuing subpoenas for pastors’ sermons. It’s involved accusations of forged signatures on the petition. And, with the vote on the ordinance approaching, it’s involved some fearmongering. As the Houston Chronicle reports:

Opponents of Houston’s equal rights ordinance released a one-minute radio spot Monday that targets women voters, hitting the airwaves first in what’s expected to be a heated and expensive campaign over the law that will appear on the November ballot.

The ad features a young woman talking about the perceived threat to public safety the ordinance presents. Critics have long seized on the idea that the ordinance, a broad non-discrimination law that includes protections for gay and transgender residents, would allow male sexual predators dressed in drag to enter women’s restrooms.

The idea that scheming, predatory men would disguise themselves as women in order to prey on women and girls in bathrooms has always been one of the rallying cries against HERO. When Fox News commentator and 2016 GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee used his platform to rally opponents to whip up opposition to the ordinance, he focused much of his argument on the idea that bathrooms would “be unsafe for women and children“:

“If the child…a boy…walks in and says ‘you know what, I really am feeling my girl’s side, he gets to go shower with the girls when he’s 14. I mean, I’m just thinking of all the 14-year-old boys I went to school with, and how many of them would have awakened with that revelation.”

Huckabee’s claims notwithstanding, the ordinance doesn’t put women and girls at additional risk of being harmed by sexual predators, according to experts who’ve studied “bathroom panic” as it relates to transgender people. There are no reported cases of transgender women assaulting anyone in public bathrooms after anti-discrimination ordinances have passed anywhere in the country. And, as stories like the headline-grabbing incident in New York last April make clear, a predator who plans to sexually assault women in public bathrooms doesn’t need to wear a disguise to do it.

To be clear, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance is a local protection for all Houstonians.  While it’s true that pregnant women (for example) are protected by federal and state laws against discrimination, what opponents don’t tell you is that it is far more expensive to lodge a discrimination claim through state and federal channels than it is to have the city investigate claims at the local level.  HERO is not simply a duplication of law.  It is putting access to local protection within reach of many in our community that don’t have the money or time to file a federal case.  It is for all of these reasons that cities and counties across the United States have taken similar actions.

Stating that fact over and over again is important, but sometimes it helps to have a visual.  If Houstonians knew that every time they travel to New York, Dallas, Shreveport or even Disney World in Orlando, they were going to another city that offers these same protections, such information could help to break the stigma HERO opponents want so desperately to create.

Texas Leftist has compiled a graphic showing all of the cities and counties that have passed comprehensive non-discrimination ordinances (also known as Human Rights Ordinances or Equal Rights Ordinances) with protections on par with the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (Data source:  the Human Rights Campaign).  Before Houstonians vote this November, they should get a clear picture of just how important, yet commonplace the protections in H.E.R.O. are.

Have you ever visited (and by proper assumption, used restroom facilities) in any of these American Cities? If so, share this post and help combat the many lies being spread about HERO.  

Also, don’t forget to join the cause to protect HERO with Houston Unites.  It’s now more important than ever.

This October and November, Houstonians will decide the fate of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance by a vote on Proposition 1. Election Day 2015 is Tuesday November 3rd, and Early Voting runs from October 19th through October 30th.  Check out this year’s Harris County Early Voting information for locations and times.

City NDO map


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By the way, some cities like Las Vegas, Nevada or Santa Fe, New Mexico are not listed for having local Equal Rights protections, but that may be because they are in one of 17 states that have enacted non-discrimination laws, thus protecting residents. In other cases like Los Angeles, the city has still chosen to pass local protections even though they are in a state which offers them.

Phoenix, City of
Tempe, City of
Tucson, City of


Los Angeles, City of
Oakland, City of
Palm Springs, City of
Sacramento, City of California
San Diego, City of
San Francisco, City of
Santa Cruz County
West Hollywood, City of

Boulder, City of
Denver, City of

District of Columbia
Washington, City of

Atlantic Beach, City of
Alachua County
Broward County
Gainesville, City of
Gulfport, City of
Key West, City of
Lake Worth, City of
Leon County
Miami Beach, City of
Monroe County
Palm Beach County
Pinellas County
Orlando, City of
Tampa, City of
Volusia County
West Palm Beach, City of

Atlanta, City of

Boise, City of
Coeur d’Alene, City of
Idaho Falls, City of
Ketchum, City of
Moscow, City of
Sandpoint, City of
Victor, City of

Aurora, City of
Carbondale, City of
Chicago, City of
Cook County
Decatur, City of
DeKalb, City of
Evanston, City of
Peoria, City of
Springfield, City of

Bloomington, City of
Evansville, City of
Indianapolis, City of
Marion County
Monroe County
South Bend, City of

Cedar Rapids, City of
Council Bluffs, City of
Davenport, City of
Des Moines, City of
Iowa City
Johnson County
Waterloo, City of

Lawrence, City of
Roeland Park, City of

Covington, City of
Danville, City of
Frankfort, City of
Jefferson County
Lexington, City of
Lexington-Fayette County
Louisville, City of
Morehead, City of
Vicco, City of

New Orleans, City of
Shreveport, City of

Baltimore, City of
Baltimore County
Howard County
Hyattsville, City of
Montgomery County

Boston, City of
Cambridge, City of
Northampton, City of
Salem, City of
Worcester, City of

Ann Arbor, City of
Detroit, City of
East Lansing, City of
Ferndale, City of
Grand Rapids, City of
Huntington Woods, City of
Kalamazoo, City of
Lansing, City of
Pleasant Ridge, City of
Saugatuck, City of
Sterling Heights, City of
Traverse, City of
Ypsilanti, City of

Minneapolis, City of
St. Paul, City of

Columbia, City of
Clayton, City of
Kansas City
Kirkwood, City of
Olivette, City of
St. Louis County
St. Louis, City of
University City

Bozeman, City of
Butte, City of
Helena, City of
Missoula, City of

Omaha, City of

New York
Albany, City of
Binghamton, City of
Buffalo, City of
Ithaca, City of
New York City
Rochester, City of
Suffolk County
Syracuse, City of
Tompkins County
Westchester County

North Carolina
Chapel Hill, City of

Athens, City of
Bowling Green, City of
Cincinnati, City of
Cleveland, City of
Columbus, City of
Coshocton, City of
Dayton, City of
East Cleveland, City of
Newark, City of
Oxford, City of
Summit County
Toledo, City of
Yellow Springs, Village of

Beaverton, City of
Bend, City of
Benton County
Corvallis, City of
Eugene, City of
Hillsboro, City of
Lake Oswego, City of
Lincoln City
Multnomah County
Portland, City of
Salem, City of

Abington Township
Allegheny County
Allentown, City of
Bethlehem, City of
Cheltenham Township
Doylestown, City of
East Norriton, City of
Easton, City of
Erie County
Harrisburg, City of
Hatboro, City of
Haverford Township
Jenkinstown Borough
Lansdowne Borough
Lower Marion Township
New Hope Borough
Newton Borough
Philadelphia, City of
Pittsburgh, City of
Pittston, City of
Scranton, City of
Springfield Township
State College Borough
Susquehanna Township
Swarthmore, City of
Upper Merion Township
West Chester Borough
Whitemarsh Township
York, City of

South Carolina
Myrtle Beach, City of

Austin, City of
Dallas County
Dallas, City of
Fort Worth, City of
Houston, City of (suspended pending litigation)

Alta, City of
Grand County
Harrisville, City of
Logan, City of
Midvale, City of
Moab, City of
Murray City
Ogden, City of
Salt Lake City
Salt Lake County
Springdale, City of
Summit County
Taylorsville, City of
West Valley, City

Burien, City of
King County
Seattle, City of
Spokane, City of
Tacoma, City of

West Virginia
Morgantown, City of
Charleston, City of

Dane County
Madison, City of
Milwaukee, City of
Dane County
Madison, City of
Milwaukee, City of

Laramie, Wyoming