Annise Parker

Mayor Annise Parker

The Houston City Council voted 12-5 today to not repeal the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, paving the way for a November ballot referendum.

The decision follows last month’s Texas Supreme Court order halting enforcement of the city’s sweeping nondiscrimination ordinance.

The ordinance bans discrimination on a variety of protected classes including sexual orientation and gender identity in public accommodations, housing, city employment and city contracting.

Violators could be fined up to $5,000.

After the ordinance passed on a 11-6 vote last year, it faced immediate opposition from religious and social conservatives who halted the law’s enforcement through lawsuits and appeals.

The state court’s decision sided with HERO opponents, stating the city council overstepped its boundaries when it invalidated a petition to repeal the ordinance via ballot referendum. The city ruled petitioners did not gather enough signatures to put it on the ballot.

“Any enforcement of the ordinance shall be suspended, and the City Council shall reconsider the ordinance. If the City Council does not repeal the ordinance by Aug. 24, 2015, then by that date the City Council must order that the ordinance be put to popular vote during the Nov. 2015 election,” according to the court’s decision.

The opinion additionally faulted city staff for not verifying differing signatories not having an appeal process when a petition is rejected.