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.