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On #HERO Anniversary, Majority of Texans Support Non-Discrimination Laws

One year ago today, Houston City Council successfully passed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, or HERO, after hearing hours of moving testimony from hundreds of supporters.

Among its protections, HERO bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, and public places, protecting thousands of LGBTQ Houstonians who could be fired, denied housing, or turned away simply based on who they are and whom they love. Though opponents of equality have fought tooth and nail over the last year to repeal this historic measure, their efforts to defeat HERO have repeatedly failed.

Hundreds of thousands of LGBT Texans not covered by non-discrimination laws

With HERO, Houston—the nation’s fourth largest and Texas’ largest city—joined the ranks of major Texas cities—including Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth and San Antonio—with some form of LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance on the books.

However, the stark reality is that there is no state law that protects Texans from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. A new report from the Williams Institute found that this lack of statewide protection leaves 429,000 Texans vulnerable to legal employment discrimination. Only 15% of the Texas’ workforce is covered by a local ordinance that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

While Democrats in the Texas Legislature filed statewide anti-discrimination legislation, GOP lawmakers introduced numerous bills that would bar cities from adopting or enforcing local non-discrimination ordinances and render these LGBT protections toothless under the guise of “religious freedom.” LGBT advocates and their champions in the legislature prevented these backwards bills from gaining traction.

Texans overwhelmingly support LGBT discrimination protections

Polls show that this GOP religious-right effort to roll back progress made on LGBT discrimination protections at the local level run afoul of the beliefs of a strong majority of Texans. A recent poll conducted by G Squared Public Strategies on behalf of Texas Wins found that 63% of Texan voters would support a law protecting LGBT individuals from discrimination, with a majority of Republicans supporting efforts to protect LGBT individuals from employment discrimination. And while they value religious freedom, 79% of voters believe that religious freedom does not give individuals a license to hurt others.

Discrimination isn’t a Texas value.

Click here to join the Texas Wins campaign to end discrimination against gay and transgender Texans.