Following Houston voters’ resounding defeat of an non-discrimination ordinance last week, Dallas did what any good rival city would: it rubbed Houston's nose in it.
On Tuesday, as our sister paper the Dallas Observer reports, Dallas City Council unanimously approved a slight tweak to the city’s already existing equal rights ordinance. Essentially, Dallas city leaders added language to the ordinance to clarify that sexual orientation and gender identity are not the same thing, ensuring that transgender people in Dallas are protected from discrimination under the law.
Which triggered collective wailing and gnashing of teeth from the same hard-right, religious conservative leaders who successfully defeated HERO by convincing voters that transgender protections would lead to a public safety crisis in women’s restrooms. Jared Woodfill, the man behind the anti-HERO campaign, posted a lengthy statement on his website today with language that should be very familiar to Houstonians at this point.
“The Dallas City Council recently fast tracked and approved an aggressive and dangerous bathroom ordinance that allows men into women’s bathrooms,” Woodfill writes. “[T]he new Dallas ordinance is a threat to safety and freedom and allows the government to fine private small business owners. … It is now time for Dallas to take a stand against the radical LGBT movement!”
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Borrowing straight from the anti-HERO playbook, Dallas State Sen. Don Huffines, a Republican, posted this Facebook message yesterday urging people to sign a petition to repeal Dallas’ equal rights ordinance.
It’s unclear whether the forces against HERO plan to take their pro-discrimination roadshow beyond just Dallas. It's probably safe to say other Texas cities with broad, inclusive anti-discrimination ordinances (like San Antonio, Fort Worth and Austin) are keeping a close eye on this one.