Parker Won't Resurrect HERO Before Leaving Office

Parker Won't Resurrect HERO Before Leaving Office
Photo by Daniel Kramer

After a crushing defeat at the polls, supporters of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance wondered whether Mayor Annise Parker, who championed the sweeping non-discrimination law before City Council, would bring it back to council members in her final weeks as mayor.

On Monday Parker took that option off the table, her office releasing this written statement: “After consulting with City Council members and considering all the other issues I still want to get finished, I do not see a way that we will be able to revisit the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance before I leave office at the end of the year. I am gratified that council members who voted for HERO initially remain supportive and I trust that the next mayor will work on it as appropriate.”

The question of how and if council can revive a law they've already passed has loomed large since 61 percent of voters killed the equal rights ordinance earlier this month. Term-limited Parker, who's stepping down in January after six years in office, had even floated the idea of bringing the ordinance back to council in piecemeal fashion to make it more palatable.

Now it seems that will be up to Houston's future mayor, either state Rep. Sylvester Turner, who has openly supported HERO, or Bill King, the former Kemah mayor who remains opposed to the non-discrimination law. The two candidates will face each other in a runoff election December 12.  

Getting council to pass another law like HERO probably won't be any easier this time around. The anti-HERO faction that sued Parker over the ordinance, convinced the Texas Supreme Court to put the law on the November 3 ballot and swayed the vast majority of Houston voters to oppose the bill (on the flawed notion that transgender rights would create a public safety crisis in women's restrooms) has been gearing up for a fight — not just in Houston but across the state.

Last week, when Dallas City Council voted to strengthen its own non-discrimination law, which was passed in 2002, the anti-HERO contingent began to rally the troops with the same “no men in women's bathrooms” mantra that led them to victory in Houston.

And the anti-HERO "Campaign for Houston" has already started warning council members here not to revive the law — according to the Houston Chronicle, fresh off their victory at the polls, the anti-HERO campaign started phone-banking to keep the pressure on any council members considering another HERO vote at council.

Jared Woodfill, the architect of the anti-HERO campaign (who, despite the whole “no men in women's bathrooms” line, is defending a client who has literally admitted to taking photos of women changing their clothes without their knowledge...in a bathroom), is even trying to capitalize on his war against the anti-discrimination ordinance. This week he announced an effort to move the 2016 Texas Republican Party Convention out of Dallas "to another Texas city that respects our Republican values and does not allow for persons to enter the restrooms of the opposite sex." 


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