HOUSTON, Texas — Residents in Houston, Texas voted overwhelmingly Tuesday night to repeal the city’s controversial homosexual and transgender equality ordinance, also known by opponents as the “bathroom bill.”
As previously reported, Houston Mayor Annise Parker, an open lesbian, had promoted an “Equal Rights Ordinance” in 2014 designed to quell any discrimination in America’s fourth largest city—including any discrimination on the basis of “gender identity.” Most opponents were especially concerned about the “Public Accommodations” section of the ordinance, which would allow men to use women’s restrooms, and vice versa, if they identity with the opposite sex.
“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,” the ordinance states.
The only stipulation, according to the ordinance, was that people who use the opposite sex’s facilities must dress, behave, and clothe themselves in a way that is “consistent with the gender designation of the facility the person attempt[s] to access.”
Last June, Houston City Council passed the bill, resulting in the creation of an initiative signed by area residents who requested that either City Council repeal the ordinance or that it place the matter on the ballot for voters to decide.
The matter soon turned into a lawsuit against Gov. Parker, which generated national attention after attorneys for the City of Houston subpoenaed several area pastors not a party to the lawsuit, and issued discovery requests demanding “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to [the ordinance], the petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity…”
In August, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that Houston officials must either repeal the city’s “Bathroom Bill” or place it on the November ballot for a vote. Officials opted for the latter.
On Tuesday, voters overwhelmingly voted to repeal the bill, defeating it 61 to 39 percent.
“I fear that this will have stained Houston’s reputation as a tolerant, welcoming, global city,” Parker said last night after the results were released. “I absolutely fear that there will be a direct economic backlash as a result of this ordinance going into defeat and that’s sad for Houston.”
But Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick, who opposed the ordinance, expressed satisfaction with the outcome.
“The voters clearly understand that this proposition was never about equality—that is already the law,” he stated. “It was about allowing men to enter women’s restrooms and locker rooms, defying common sense and common decency.”
“[The vote] was about protecting our grandmoms and our mothers and our wives and our sisters and our daughters and our granddaughters,” Patrick continued. “I’m glad Houston led tonight to end this constant political-correctness attack on what we know in our heart and our gut as Americans is not right.”
Some opine that city council might decide to revisit the issue at a later time and present an altered version of the ordinance for consideration.