Equal Rights Ordinance Changes Section Regarding Gender ID and Bathroom Access (UPDATED)
Mayor Annise Parker's HERO ordinance looks like it's a go.
Photo by Camilo Smith
Update 3: The City Council meeting this afternoon had two overflow rooms, with more than 200 names on the speaker's list. Police were gathered in front of the building while protesters singing Hallelujah stood outside holding up signs calling for a "No" vote on the ordinance. Young kids holding smaller signs that read "Equality" stood off to the side. Transgender residents, and other people who signed up for public comments eagerly listened to a television monitor for their names to be called from the council dais. Just before 5 p.m. the council was still hearing testimony.
Update 2: According to the mayor's office Councilman Jerry Davis is going to remove part of the proposed ordinance's section 17-51, which relates to access to bathrooms and similar facilities. It currently reads: It shall be unlawful for any place of public accommodation or any employee or agent thereof to intentionally deny any person entry to any restroom, shower room, or similar facility if that facility is consistent with and appropriate to that person's expression of gender identity.
Update 1: The mayor's office released the following information this morning about today's planned announcement: Supporters of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance will make an announcement regarding an agreed upon change in the proposed ordinance and release a letter of support signed by clergy. Expected to attend the event are Senator Rodney Ellis and Rep. Sylvester Turner. The grassroots organization Texans Together is also planning a major push today, wearing red shirts, and speaking at today's city council meeting.
Original After some weeks following her announcement of a proposed city ordinance to combat discrimination, Mayor Annise Parker is expected to give a major announcement today regarding the aptly titled HERO proposal.
The move would form a special city group to look into and accusations of discrimination that's based on age, religion, sex, or race. It looks to ban discrimination with a focus on increasing protections for the LBGTQ community.
Private businesses, city jobs and housing would all be subject to scrutiny under the ordinance, and its gotten a lot of support from various groups, and the expected backlash early on from some religious leader.
Any lack of support doesn't seem to be stifling any passage of the vote, although any final action by the City Council was pushed back to finalize amendments to the proposal.
With backing from the Greater Houston Partnership, as well as other advocated and religious leaders, now seems the time for HERO to become official and allow Houston to join the ranks of other forward thinking cities in protecting its public.
The mayor will be joined by supports of HERO on the steps of city hall today at 10:30a.m.