Anti-Bias Law Rejected: Houston Equal Rights Ordinance Over Transgender Bathrooms Debate Rages On

The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance was solidly voted down by citizens of the Texas city. The amendment, which has been dubbed as the “anti-bias law,” would have permitted transgender individuals to enter the public restroom of their identifying gender.

The controversial Houston equal rights amendment was staunchly supported by the gay and transgender community. Opponents to the anti-bias law were equally motivated and vocal in their efforts to prevent what they feel is an impropriety regarding restroom usage.

The transgender and gay rights controversy even spilled over into the NFL and Superbowl scheduling. A day after Houston voters rejected the proposed law, the National Football league responded to questions concerning a possible relocation of the 2017 Superbowl, Click2Houston reports.

Some Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) supporters had questioned whether or not the National Football League would relocate the Super Bowl game because of the gay rights defeat in the host city.

An excerpt from the NFL response to the anti-bias law rejection follows.

“This will not affect our plans for Super Bowl LI in 2017. We will work closely with the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee to make sure all fans feel welcomed at our events. Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard.”

The HERO political battle raged for almost 18 months. The fight over transgender bathrooms and other dictates in the equal rights ordinance sparked legal battles and allegations of both the demonization transgender people and the LGBT community, and of religious intolerance.

Supporters of the law largely felt it offered enhanced protections for transgender and gay individuals and by extension increased discrimination protections based upon age, religion, and sex. Opponents to the transgender-focused ordinance typically voiced concerns that allowing biological males or females into restroom designated for the opposite sex would increase the likelihood for sexual predators and child molesters to enter the ladies’ room, the Houston Chronicle notes.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker supported the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. She argued that the transgender bathroom law extended an important local recourse for a broad range of “protected classes” and enabled such individuals to respond to discrimination. There are currently 13 protected classes as designated by federal law. It is illegal to discriminate against someone based upon their sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, disability, pregnancy, and genetic information, as well as family, marital, or military status.

A statement from HERO organizers and supporters was released after the solid rejection of the anti-bias law was realized on Tuesday evening.

“We are disappointed with today’s outcome, but our work to secure nondiscrimination protections for all hard-working Houstonians will continue. No one should have to live with the specter of discrimination hanging over them. Everyone should have the freedom to work hard, earn a decent living and provide for themselves and their families.”

The Houston anti-bias law was an ordinance that was passed and enacted for only three months before extensive legal challenges surfaced that the matter was placed before the voters. The law stated that businesses that serve the public, private employers, housing, and city contracting were each subject to the law and would face up to $5,000 in fines for violations of the ordinance. Religious institutions were exempt from compliance.

What do you think about the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance defeat? Should transgender individuals be permitted to enter public restrooms designated to serve those of the opposite physical gender?

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