Back on October 3rd, I published the questionnaire response from Council Member Cohen, and she not only confirmed full support for the Non- Discrimination Ordinance, but gave valuable insight into how to move it through Council…
TL: With the exception of city government and some other select businesses, Houstonians can still be fired for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender because we do not have a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance for general employment. This lags behind other Texas cities such as Dallas, Austin, and Ft. Worth. Do you support a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance for the city of Houston? If not, please explain why. If so, please explain how you would work to pass such a measure.
EC: I absolutely support a comprehensive non-discrimination measure a consider it to be a major civil rights priority. Demonstrating community support and dispelling misconceptions will be critical in getting such a measure passed.
Not sure whether that last statement is more politics or prophecy, but whichever the case, it’s certainly coming true. In the short time since the Ordinance’s public debut, declamatory shots have been fired by all sides. Here’s more on that from Mike Morris of the Houston Chronicle…
The City Council is expected to discuss the measure at a committee hearing next week and to vote on the proposal next month, the mayor said.
Parker, the first openly gay mayor of a major American city, said she is aware most of the debate will focus on sexual orientation and gender identity – two groups not covered by federal law – but stressed that the proposal, Houston’s first nondiscrimination measure, is comprehensive.
“It has been surprising to me how many people in the African-American community I have heard from in recent months talking about still having problems getting equal access to the hottest clubs in the evening or restaurants, bars, music venues,” she said. “It gives the city of Houston an opportunity to weigh in and try to help smooth a path for those who want access to those facilities.”
Dave Welch, of the Houston Area Pastor Council, said Parker is imposing onerous rules on businesses for a problem that does not exist.
“She is using anecdotal examples of discrimination, which may or may not occur, based on race and veterans’ situations as a front for her promises to ‘her people,’ as she described them in her inaugural address, the GLBT community,” he said. “It’s dishonest.”
Parker initially had talked of creating a human rights commission to hear complaints, but that idea was left out of the proposal announced Monday.
Contrary to what the article implies, not all churches are against equality. As Texas Leftist readers know, many faith-professing congregations around the Bayou City are proud to support this Non- Discrimination ordinance, and others like it. But from people like Dave Welch, this response was to be expected. After all, he and the Houston Area Pastor Council have led the charge against Parker since before she was even elected, and have opposed her every step of the way. In summation… Haters gonna HATE.
But if a couple of enraged pastors and irate bloggers is the best that the anti-equality side has, then this vote really should be a no-brainer for Council. And in case anyone needed a reminder, equality is not a right vs. left issue. Many Conservative Houstonians are willing to support this Non- Discrimination ordinance as planned, and some, like the Log Cabin Republicans of Houston have been working behind the scenes towards its passage. Here’s what LCR had to say on the group’s Facebook page…
The Log Cabin Republicans of Houston applauds Mayor Parker’s plans to introduce the upcoming Equal Rights Ordinance. The ordinance is a significant step to promote the economic development of Houston. The great city of Houston is currently experiencing an economic highpoint, and it would be well served by protecting its workforce from incidents of discrimination. This proposal is good policy which will move Houston forward into the 21st century.
The history of the Republican Party has been one of supporting equal treatment of all people before the law, including supporting the civil rights movement for Black Americans, women suffrage, and the 1964 civil rights act. It is in this same vein that we today urge all city council members and citizens of Houston to support this important step for our city.
As Cohen stated above, dispelling misconceptions about this ordinance is just as key as anything else. Thanks to groups like LCR, we can put one more to bed… Houstonians on both the Left and the Right support equality, and want to see this ordinance move forward. Hopefully Council Members will keep this in mind as they consider their vote.