On an 11-6 vote May 28 by its city council, Houston became the latest U.S. city to pass an ordinance giving special rights to homosexuals and “transgendered” individuals — those who dress, act, and “identify” as the opposite sex. The announced goal of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, forced on the city by its openly homosexual mayor Annise Parker, is to protect residents and others from discrimination in public accommodations, employment, and housing on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, age, and disability — all elements present in existing state and federal law.
However, Parker's specific reason for pushing the ordinance was to saddle the city with a prohibition on discrimination against homosexuals and “transgendered” individuals, a measure opponents warn will open business owners and individuals to fines and criminal prosecution if they refuse to serve homosexuals because of their religious and moral convictions.
David Walls of the pro-family group Texas Values warned before its passage that the ordinance was designed to “specifically impose 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity' as protected classes onto the private sector of Houston, while centralizing the power of investigation, fines [of up to $500 a day], and punishment under the mayor.” Walls warned that the proposed measure, much like one in San Antonio dubbed the “anti-Christian ordinance,” would represent a “direct threat to any person in Houston who holds a biblical or traditional view of marriage or sexuality, whether in government or in business.”
Mayor Parker was candid that the measure was meant to benefit homosexuals like herself, saying during open discussion on the ordinance that “this is about me,” as quoted by OneNewsNow.com. Christian and conservative Houstonians noted that during those public discussions, homosexuals and proponents of the law were given significant precedent over those who opposed it. According to a report by Texas Values, a number of local black pastors who opposed the measure “walked out of the council chambers after homosexual advocates were given priority placement for testimony at the beginning of the meeting, while the mayor and some council members voted to keep the pastors further down on the list.”
Homosexual activist groups applauded passage of the law, even without a provision, deleted earlier, that would have required Houston businesses and public places to allow transvestites and other self-identified “transgendered” individuals to use opposite-sex restroom facilities. “We thank the members of the Houston City Council for bringing fairness and equality to the nation’s fourth largest city,” said Marty Rouse of the homosexual activist group Human Rights Campaign, which claimed to have “played a role” in passage of the ordinance. Rouse said that it was “far past time to protect the citizens of Houston from all forms of discrimination, including discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
As for Mayor Parker, she reflected that while gaining special rights for homosexuals was “not the most important thing I have done or will do as mayor,” it certainly represented “the most personally satisfying, the most personally meaningful thing that I will do as mayor.”
Texas Values' Jonathan Saenz vowed that the fight over the ordinance is not over, saying that conservative and Christian leaders were discussing the possibility of getting enough signatures from Houstonians to force a vote by residents on the ordinance. “Over 110,000 people sent e-mail messages to the city council opposing this ordinance,” Saenz told OneNewsNow. “That's more than the 98,000 votes that the mayor got in her last election. And so the onslaught of opposition and just the sheer numbers of people who are now informed of what's happening in the city of Houston is going to turn in the favor of people of faith, I believe.”