Influenced by opponents of equality who took their tactics of fear and distortion to new levels, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) was defeated. The ordinance, also known as Proposition 1, would have prohibited discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodation on the basis of 15 protected classes including race, gender, pregnancy, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability and military status. Chuck Smith, Executive Director for Equality Texas, issued this statement:
“We experienced some of the most vitriolic and divisive tactics ever seen here in Texas from our opponents during this election. As a coalition we worked diligently together to confront all of the fear-mongering and misleading information used to confuse local voters. Volunteers, grassroots organizers, and an array of faith-based and civic leaders came together to work tirelessly with dedication until the very last vote was counted. It was no doubt an impressive campaign of collective action for fairness and equality. As an organization we are truly humbled by the efforts of everyone who made up the Houston Unites coalition.”
This loss will be difficult for everyone, especially every gay and transgender Houstonian. The amount of misinformation spread through this election will truly impact how we move forward to educate about the harms caused by discrimination, and the real people who benefit by extending legal protections for all.
As Houstonians and Texans we are stronger when we stand together, speaking up with one voice for protections like those in HERO, rather than allowing those who oppose fairness and equality to divide us. Everyone should have the freedom to work hard, earn a decent living and provide for themselves and their families. Our work will continue until those freedoms are secured.
The leading partners of Houston Unites include: ACLU of Texas, Equality Texas, Freedom for All Americans, Human Rights Campaign, NAACP Houston Branch and Texas Freedom Network.