Houston Voters Reject Equal Rights Ordinance

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November 3, 2015

Today, Houston voters went to the polls and rejected the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), defeating a citywide ordinance that would have prohibited discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation on the basis of race, age, gender, pregnancy, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or military status.

Kenneth D. Upton Jr., Senior Counsel in Lambda Legal’s South Central Regional Office in Dallas, said:

We knew this vote would be an uphill battle, and we witnessed the opponents of HERO pull out all the stops, launching a campaign full of distortions and fear-mongering designed to mislead and confuse voters. But we also saw an impressive coming together of the Houston business, faith and civic communities in Houston Unites, which campaigned tirelessly in support of HERO and for ensuring that all Houstonians can live their lives and provide for their families without fear of discrimination. Sadly, the ugly and divisive tactics of the opponents of HERO succeeded in persuading a majority of Houstonians to vote no. But we have faced disappointments before that did not stop us - this fight for fairness is far from over.

Lambda Legal Dallas-based Community Educator Omar Narvaez said:

Working on the ground in Houston, especially in the days leading up to Tuesday’s vote, I witnessed firsthand the passion and dedication of everyone at Houston Unites. This loss is tough to take, and the hatred and misinformation that was spread about people who are transgender, in particular, was unconscionable. I am proud to have been part of this grassroots effort and truly believe that we will be back and that full and equal protections for all Houstonians will be achieved in the near future.

Today’s vote came in response to a Texas Supreme Court ruling this past July ordering the Houston City Council either to repeal HERO, which it adopted last year, or place it on the November ballot.

Lambda Legal joined with other advocacy organizations in Houston Unites, a coalition of dozens of advocacy organizations and businesses formed in the immediate aftermath of the Texas Supreme Court ruling to campaign in favor of HERO. Leading corporations also endorsed the ordinance, including Apple, Dow Chemical, General Electric and Hewlett Packard.

HERO, Texas, Texas