It finally passed.
After nine hours of debate last night, the Houston City Council passed the Equal Rights Ordinance by an 11-6 vote. It updated city code to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics for hiring, firing, housing, and public services.
“While much of the debate has centered around the gay and transgender section of the ordinance, it is a comprehensive ordinance,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “It is a good step forward for the city of Houston.”
The new law should protect minorities from discrimination, an important step for LBGT Houstonians.
The law sparked a lot of controversy because it originally spelled out protections for transgender folks. It said they could use their preferred restroom in any public business.
People freaked. The law made national news because holy shit perverts are going to use this law to attack us all. Protestors (for and against) packed into city hall every time the subject came up.
Eventually Councillor Jerry Davis added an amendment that removed the specific protections for transgender bathroom use.
This was supposed to be an olive branch to the haters… but, as they quickly realized, this change also removed protections for Christian businesses. So they kept protesting.
“I, like tens of thousands of other Houstonians, oppose the Ordinance,” wrote Harris County GOP Chairman Jared Woodfill. “This ordinance imposes another form of very real discrimination on businesses and people of faith, and puts innocent civilians in the path of sexual predators.”
The problem for them was that Parker had the votes to pass it from day one. Talking to people at City Hall, I learned that she could already get the bill through.
Sure enough, the bill went through at 8:29 p.m. last night. Congratulations, Houston. You’ve done something good today.