November 3, 2015

Houston Equal Rights Ordinance Repealed

New York, NY - The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) responded to news that voters have repealed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), which banned discrimination against Houstonians in housing, employment, public accommodations and city services. It protected residents from public and private sector bias based upon their race, religion, age, disability, military status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and several other characteristics. The ordinance passed the Houston City Council in 2014, sparking a push by opponents to place a repeal referendum on the ballot. The Council ruled that opponents had failed to gather enough signatures to move their effort forward. They then filed suit and the Texas Supreme Court ordered the Council to overturn HERO or send the referendum to the ballot.

Statement from TLDEF Executive Director Michael Silverman

“This vote is a setback for Houston and for equal rights. Houstonians turned their backs on their city’s historic embrace of diversity and inclusion. Leading up to the vote, those opposed to HERO waged an all-out war against it, spreading fear and misinformation about the law’s protections for transgender Houstonians. Anti-transgender activists made false and offensive claims designed to exploit the public’s lack of familiarity with the transgender community and the unique challenges it faces.

“From day one, this law has been about ensuring that Houston residents receive basic protection from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations, and that they have legal recourse if they are fired from their jobs, thrown out of their homes, or refused service just because of who they are.

“Opponents have been vicious in their efforts to turn back the clock on justice, but in due time their tactics will cease to be effective. As Houstonians and Americans everywhere continue to learn more about their transgender family members, neighbors and co-workers, efforts to vilify the community will fail.

“The struggle for basic fairness is far from over. We stand shoulder to shoulder with Houston Mayor Annise Parker and all those who worked tirelessly in support of HERO. Justice and equality will prevail in Houston and throughout our nation. We remain steadfast in our commitment to the pursuit of equal rights.”