Did Ex-MLB Star Lance Berkman Help Doom The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance?

Did an MLB hero help defeat HERO, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance?

Retired baseball player Lance Berkman was a high-profile opponent of the measure, which lost in a landslide on Tuesday by a margin of 61 percent to 39 percent in the citywide referendum.

In the run-up to Election Day, Berkman cut a 30-second video in which he recommended voters to vote no on HERO, which was on the ballot as Proposition 1. See clip embedded below.

HERO would have banned sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in, among other things, employment and in public accommodations in the city of Houston. With the support of Houston Mayor Annise Parker, the ordinance was originally enacted by the city council in May 2014, but legal challenges eventually forced it to a referendum which resulted in its repeal on Tuesday.

As the Inquisitr previously explained, supporters of the law largely felt it offered enhanced protections for transgender and gay individuals. 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.

“Democratic Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who is gay, and other supporters of the ordinance had called this ‘bathroom ordinance’ strategy highly misleading and a scare tactic,” TheBlaze reported. “Tuesday’s referendum drew attention from around the nation, with the measure getting high-profile endorsements last week from the White House, high-tech giant Apple and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.”

Houston resident Lance Berkman, an outfielder/first baseman who played 12 seasons for the hometeam Astros and was a World Series champion as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals, and who also played one for one year each for the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers, had this to say in a campaign ad produced by the anti-HERO Campaign for Houston.

“I’m Lance Berkman. I played professional baseball for 15 years, but my family is more important. My wife and I have four daughters. Proposition 1 would allow troubled men who claim to be women to enter women’s bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms. It is better to prevent this danger by closing women’s restrooms to men rather than waiting for a crime to happen. Join me to stop the violation of privacy and discrimination against women. Vote no on Proposition 1, no men in women’s bathrooms, no boys in girls showers or locker rooms.”

In a phone interview on radio station KTRH’s Michael Berry show yesterday, Berkman talked about the backlash he received from the ad, including accusations that he was a bigot, intolerant, or a homophobe, and even being called out on Twitter by Mayor Parker. He acknowledged the fact that he might have difficulties in the future getting a gig in sports media as a result of his activism. “Those are all things I’m willing to risk for the sake of what I believe is right,” he declared.

While describing the blowback a form of “digital persecution,” Berkman claimed that he is not active on social media, so he didn’t pay much attention to what opponents were saying online and in the news media, although he did eventually Google himself while the controversy raged.

Lance Berkman of the Houston Astros
[Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images]
Berkman even conceded that he initially wasn’t even aware of the ordinance until a local clergyman clued him in. He maintained, however, that if somebody — such as a former pro athlete — has a platform or a megaphone that gives him or her an opportunity to stand up for something that they believe in strongly, they should speak up. To do otherwise is a disservice to the community, letting the other side win by default, he insisted.

“First of all, as a Christian, I feel that I had an obligation to stand for what I believe is right….Too many Christians are passive about…either they don’t want to offend anybody or they want to be careful they’re not trying to push their belief system on other people. And I’m not about pushing my belief system on other people, but what I am about articulating my belief system, and I am about taking a stand for it when I have the opportunity, so this to me was what that was about.”

The retired MLB player who is currently coaching on the high school level added that too much tolerance is a “virtue that is killing this country” and is a “slippery slope.”

Lance Berkman
[Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images}
Parenthetically, the Obama administration just told a Chicago-area school district that it violated the law by denying a transgender student full access rather than limited access under an accommodation to the girl’s locker room

With a reference to a possible double standard when it comes to discussing hot-button social issues embodied in the HERO measure, “One of the great things about this country is that we can have differing opinions… What’s become a shame is that it seems like anybody who has an opinion that comes more from right immediately gets castigated, called a bigot, by voicing that opinion,” Berkman concluded in the interview.

Berkman was a career .293 hittter with 366 home runs and about 1,200 RBI. The six-time MLB All-Star won National League Comeback Player of the Year honors in 2011.

What do you think of Lance Berkman’s vocal role in the resounding defeat of HERO, the LGBT rights measure in Houston, Texas?

[image via YouTube]

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