Well, today’s the day. The fate of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance will be decided. Everyone has an opinion on the ordinance, including, now The New York Times.
In their endorsement, the board encourages Houston voters to vote “‘yes’ to retaining the ordinance, saying it would be affirming the city’s most valuable asset: its longstanding culture of inclusiveness.”
If HERO is repealed, the board warns, the consequences “could be severe.”
The Times is just the latest entity to support the ballot measure. In recent weeks, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, have all backed HERO.
The nondiscrimination ordinance includes protections for LGBT people, as well as other federally protected classes, including those based on sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, disability, pregnancy, genetic information, family and marital or military status.
It applies to businesses that serve the public, private employers, housing, city employment and city contracting. Religious institutions would be exempt.
Those violating the ordinance could be fined up to $5,000.
HERO passed city council last year after passionate, but has been mired in legal battles since.
Opponents, under the banner of the Campaign for Houston, argue the LGBT protections in the ordinance violate their religious freedoms.
In advertisement after advertisement, the message has been the same: “No Men in Women’s Bathrooms.” Using the typical transphobic scare tactic, conservatives argue the protections would allow men access to women’s bathrooms, giving them the chance to prey on women and girls in those facilities.
I’ll be blogging the returns tonight on Instant Tea.