HOUSTON – The Houston City Council is currently considering an ‘equal rights’ ordinance which would allow men and women to use restrooms and shower rooms designated for the opposite sex, as long as they identify with the opposite gender.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker, an open lesbian, is promoting an “Equal Rights Ordinance” designed to quell any discrimination in America’s fourth largest city—including any discrimination on the basis of “gender identity.”
“Gender identity means an individual’s innate identification, appearance, expression or behavior as either male or female,” the most recent ordinance draft states, “although the same may not correspond to the individual’s body or gender as assigned at birth.”
Many people are especially concerned by 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, is 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.”
The controversial ordinance was debated at length during a Houston City Council meeting last Tuesday. According to local affiliate KHOU, over 100 people lined up to publicly weigh in on the issue in front of the mayor and the council. The public session dragged on for nearly four hours, as dozens of individuals voiced either support or opposition to the measure.
As previously reported, a similar “bathroom bill” was passed in California last year. The bill mandates that schools allow boys who identify as girls to use girls’ restrooms, and vice versa.
When Delaware also passed a comparable “bathroom bill,” Christians warned of the implications.
“[The bathroom bill] goes against every single thing that we as Christians stand for,” Mike Fox, a Delaware pastor, stated. “God said, in the beginning, He created them male and female. And so, from the very beginning to the very end of the Bible, this [bill] is demolishing every ounce of identity that God created.”
The Houston City Council will meet again on Tuesday to discuss the proposed ordinance. According to reports, Mayor Parker is confident that the legislation will be implemented. If approved by the City Council, the 35-page ordinance would go into effect immediately.
Meanwhile, Christians in Texas have voiced strong opposition to the ordinance, describing it as “dangerous and unnecessary.” Jonathan Saenz, an attorney and president of the advocacy group Texas Values, is one of the dissidents.
“The people of Houston should reject this attempt to use executive power to force private citizens to violate their religious beliefs and put themselves and their children at risk,” Saenz wrote in a statement on Wednesday. “It’s time for the Council to table this proposal for good.”
David Walls, director of operations for Texas Values, similarly warned of the ordinance’s possible consequences.
“The ordinance, much like San Antonio’s controversial anti-Christian ordinance, is a direct threat to any person in Houston that holds a biblical or traditional view of marriage or sexuality, whether in government or in business,” Walls wrote in a recent analysis of the legislation.
“The ordinance would force employers and a private business owner to violate their religious and moral convictions,” he warned. “It subjects individuals to criminal prosecution for refusing to participate in the celebration of the homosexual lifestyle because of their religious beliefs or conviction of conscience.”
Houston pastors are also voicing concern over Mayor Parker’s ordinance. Ed Young, senior pastor at Second Baptist Church in Houston, says the ordinance is a “staggering moral issue” and abuses the definition of “tolerance.”
“Tolerance should not be defined as casting aside and acting against one’s own beliefs to accommodate someone else’s,” Young wrote in a public letter. “Simply put, the homosexual community wants us to tolerate their behavior and beliefs but does not want to give the rest of us that same courtesy. On top of that, they want to use threats of criminal prosecution and fines to accomplish our acquiescence. Their rights should end where our morality and rights begin.”