Houston Texans owner Bob McNair has been a busy man. So busy, in fact, that he was unaware, until very recently, that a group campaigning against the HERO anti-discrimination ordinance has for the last year relied on fearmongering to attempt to shut the bill down. The ordinance received significant local media attention when it was first proposed; and then national attention after the City's tone-deaf move to subpoena the sermons of pastors speaking out against it.
The ordinance was the subject of protracted, convoluted litigation that wound up going before the Texas Supreme Court twice; it seemed that every week, there was a twist or turn that kept the battle in the headlines. Meanwhile, anti-HERO figureheads like Steve Hotze issued a newsletter warning that, because of the gay agenda, sodomy will be taught in kindergarten in order to "recruit" kids into the gay "lifestyle." (In terms that McNair might understand better, kindergarten would be like the LGBT League farm team).
McNair's been a pretty generous donor to many conservative causes, and it would seem that he checked out the organizations behind them before he cut a check. But somehow, it seems, the fact that the anti-HERO crowd trucked in fear, distortion, and bigotry flew right over his head.
That's why it was probably a rude awakening when he took heat for his $10,000 donation to the anti-HERO Campaign for Houston last week, and probably why it really stung when former NFL punter Chris Kluwe wrote, "surely this man could not be a pants-on-head, cowhumping glue-huffer stupid enough to buy in on clearly outdated ideals of bigotry and intolerance."
See, we're supposed to believe that McNair was innocently unaware of Campaign for Houston's despicable tactics. After all, McNair announced that his contribution to the group came from his belief that HERO could benefit from a "thoughtful rewrite."
He explained in a statement today announcing his decision to rescind his donation to the anti-HERO crowd: "It was on these principles that I made my personal contribution to Campaign for Houston. To my great dismay, Campaign for Houston made numerous unauthorized statements about my opposition to HERO in print, broadcast and social media – including attributing certain statements of belief to me. Their actions and statements were never discussed with nor approved by me. Therefore I instructed the Campaign to return my contribution. I do not believe in or tolerate personal or professional discrimination of any kind. I also believe that we Houstonians should have an ordinance that unites our community and provides a bold statement of non-discrimination."
To my great dismay? Really?
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We hoped to find out which part of the ordinance could benefit from a "thoughtful rewrite" — maybe the part about discrimination based on military status? Religion, maybe? But, as you might expect, McNair is much too busy to talk to us. And Texans spokesman Kevin Cooper declined to comment on the record. (We're sure there are plenty of footballs in NRG Stadium's equipment room; there's just not a lot of balls anywhere else).
A cynical person might suspect that McNair is not getting stellar advice from his handlers, if they exist. He stepped in shit that he somehow did not see, and then someone told him to look at his shoe. It's unclear how a man that intelligent could have anticipated any other public reaction to his contribution.
Curiously, McNair's statement remains wishy-washy about the ordinance itself. He claims to have rescinded his money because of how Campaign for Houston was using his name — not for the text of the ordinance itself, which he said could use a rewrite.
So when he states, "I also believe that we Houstonians should have an ordinance that unites our community and provides a bold statement of non-discrimination," does that mean that ordinance is HERO as it's written, or some watered-down future version? First, McNair gives money to a virulently homophobic organization, then he takes it away and offers a hollow excuse. It'd be nice to know where he actually stands. Or if he stands for anything at all.