- August 18, 2014
In May, Houston city councilors passed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), protecting residents and visitors from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. The ordinance includes protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as on the basis of sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, genetic information, and pregnancy.
Opponents of equality collected signatures to force a public vote on HERO, but the city determined that the petitioners had failed to submit the required number of valid signatures.
Last Friday, Texas State District Judge Robert Schaffer heard arguments seeking to overturn the city's determination that petitioners had failed to submit the required number of valid signatures to force a referendum on HERO.
The judge set a hearing date of January 15, 2015. This ensures that HERO will not appear on the ballot this November, but it also ensures that HERO will not go into effect before the trial date next January. It is disappointing that Houstonians continue to live without basic protections against discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.
Depending on the outcome of the court case, HERO could still be put up for a public vote in 2015.
HRC is a founding member of the Equal Rights Houston campaign, along with Equality Texas, the ACLU of Texas, Gill Action, Houston GLBT Political Caucus, Houston Turnout Project, and Texas Freedom Network.
Cities and counties across the country have ordinances prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. To find out more about what cities are doing to support their LGBT residents and visitors, check out HRC's Municipal Equality Index.