Guest post submitted by Lou Weaver, volunteer leader with HRC Houston

Over the past few months, our community has come together like nothing in my memory of Houston, Texas.

Coalitions were formed and alliances made. The Human Rights Campaign, NAACP, LULAC, ACLU, NOW, RMCC, Equality Texas, Houston GLBT Political Caucus, League of Women Voters and other local organizations stood side-by-side to fight discrimination.

In May, Houston City Councilmember Ellen Cohen proposed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), which will provide strong city protections against discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations on a number of bases, including sexual orientation and gender expression. We stood together as lies and misinformation spread; we stood to testify before the City Council and discuss the discrimination happening in our city; we stood and said we would no longer be considered second-class citizens; we stood and we waited.

After success at the City Council, we stood together for countless volunteer hours to check the validity of the petitions turned in to force HERO to the ballot for a public vote.  As a community, we waited for the city to complete its review of the petitions and for the announcement that finally came last night from Mayor Parker and the Houston City Attorney that opponents of HERO had failed to collect the number of verified signatures required to put the ordinance up for a vote.

It is a small win; we still wait to see if HERO’s opponents will bring forth a court case. HERO could still be put on an upcoming ballot this year or next.

And we still wait for the process to be complete and for the ordinance to take effect.  Like Mayor Parker said all along, “The Houston I know does not discriminate.” We have been victorious twice and will continue to stand on the right side of history.

It has been an honor to represent Houston and HRC in this fight. I know I do not stand alone.

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.

HERO Houston Texas
HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse, Houston Mayor Annise Parker, and Lou Weaver after the successful Houston City Council vote on HERO.

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