December 2015 Church & State | AU Bulletin

The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), a measure designed to protect gays, lesbians and others from discrimination, failed to survive a ballot referendum Nov. 3.

Passed by the Houston City Council last May, the law prohibited housing and employment discrimination on the basis of several classifications, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

“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,” HERO supporters said in a statement to the Houston Chronicle.

Conservative groups swiftly challenged the measure in court even though religious organizations were exempt from its provisions. The Texas Supreme Court then ordered the city to reverse the law or put it to a vote.

Religious Right groups rallied to oppose the measure in strong numbers. Although the law offered protection to many people, opponents insisted its primary goal was to allow transgender people to use the restroom of their choice. They spread scare stories about male sexual predators invading women’s restrooms.

Federal law does not currently prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.