How to Talk to Your Crazy Uncle About the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance
Houston has become ground zero in the nation’s fight for LGBT equality. On November 3, Houstonians will take to the polls to vote for the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) which prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations on the basis of 15 characteristics, including sexual orientation and gender identity.
So whether it’s your crazy uncle, that preachy Facebook friend you've been meaning to unfriend, or Ted Cruz, we’ve got you covered.
CRAZY UNCLE SAYS: We don’t need HERO. We have enough laws and regulations!
YOU SAY: In Houston it is legal to discriminate against people who are gay or transgender. HERO will help protect tens of thousands of Houstonians who could be fired, evicted, or turned away simply based on who they are.
As the fourth largest city in the nation, Houston is the only city of its size without a law like HERO. Dallas, San Antonio, Fort Worth, and Austin all have nondiscrimination protections on the books.
CRAZY UNCLE SAYS: If HERO passes, sexual predators are going to be able to sneak into women's restrooms.YOU SAY: Nondiscrimination laws that include similar protections for transgender people have existed in U.S. cities and states for decades with no increase in public safety incidents. After HERO becomes law, it will still be illegal for anyone to enter a restroom to harm or harass others. Any predator who enters a women’s restroom will always be subject to arrest and prosecution.
CRAZY UNCLE SAYS: HERO will infringe on my religious freedom!YOU SAY: HERO is concerned with discriminatory actions, not your personal religious beliefs. But religious convictions don't give business owners a legal right to discriminate. HERO protects gay and transgender people, while providing exemptions for religious organizations.
CRAZY UNCLE SAYS: HERO is going to trigger costly and frivolous lawsuits!YOU SAY: HERO allows people to report discrimination without having to hire an attorney or go to court. It provides a streamlined local solution to local problems.
CRAZY UNCLE SAYS: Ok, I've heard enough about this "gay ordinance."YOU SAY: Though Houston needs HERO for the legal protections it affords to gay and transgender people, it doesn't stop there. HERO also bans discrimination on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military states, religion, disability, genetic information, or pregnancy. Actually, the majority of discrimination complaints filed since HERO’s passage have involved race.