HRC Blog

Houston Mayor Annise Parker Signs Comprehensive Non-Discrimination Order

Openly lesbian mayor of Houston Annise Parker issued an executive order this week banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, making it one of at least thirteen municipalities to provide comprehensive protections for public employees alone. At least 129 municipalities have inclusive ordinances protecting both public and private employees, including Austin, Dallas, El Paso and Forth Worth. What makes Mayor Parker’s order even more comprehensive is that it also prohibits discrimination by the city’s contractors and vendors (more information about supplier standards) and their employees. According to the Dallas Voice, the Executive Order states:

“The purpose of this Executive Order is to prohibit discrimination and/or retaliation on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity at every level of municipal government, including hiring, contracting and/or access to City facilities and programs/activities.”

Mayor Parker also introduced a second order that prohibits racial, ethnic, gender and other slurs and delineates menacing behavior, critical or mocking comments and perpetuating stereotypes as inappropriate workplace behavior. Jurisdictions have required contractors to offer equal benefits to both different-sex spouses and same-sex partners since 1998, but non-discrimination requirements are a newer trend. Mayor Parker’s changes are a positive step for Houston’s employees and contractors, and they bring the city closer to Dallas and Austin, which have offered partner benefits to city employees since 2004 and 2006, respectively.

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