Endorsement watch: What needs to be said

The Chron’s endorsement of HERO is both the most obvious call they’ll make and a pleasant surprise in terms of how they did it.


Let’s be frank: The organized opposition to Houston’s proposed equal rights ordinance is mendacious, deceitful and irresponsible in the extreme. Attorney Jared Woodfill and his opposition cohorts know that nothing in the ordinance – repeat, nothing – allows male sexual predators dressed in drag to lurk in women’s restrooms waiting to attack women and little girls. If they don’t know, then they haven’t read the ordinance.

And if any city or county across the country, including Texas, has had a dangerous incident with transgender individuals making women uncomfortable by barging into the wrong bathroom, we haven’t heard about it. The opponents know they cannot come up with reports of transgender women assaulting anyone in public bathrooms after the passage of anti-discrimination ordinances. They don’t exist.

States as diverse as Iowa, Hawaii, Maine and New Mexico, 17 in all, report no evidence of the kind of abuse or assaults that the Houston opponents are predicting. Fort Worth was the first Texas city to pass a nondiscrimination ordinance, 15 years ago. Neither Fort Worth nor any other Texas city has reported problems.

As Richard Carlbom with the pro-ordinance Houston Unites campaign told the Chronicle: “Nothing in the equal rights ordinance changes the fact that it is – and always will be – illegal to enter a restroom to harm or harass other people.” And as Chronicle columnist Lisa Falkenberg pointed out recently, if sexual predators “wanted to attack you in a public bathroom, they wouldn’t need a city ordinance to do it.”

For ordinance opponents, facts are irrelevant. They’re using what they consider their most effective tool to defeat an ordinance that partially benefits a group of people whose lifestyle they don’t support. That’s their real motive. They know that their best hope is to prey on parents’ concerns about the safety of their children and to gin up always lurking discrimination against gays and the transgendered. To be blunt, they’re playing their fellow Houstonians for chumps.


We appreciate the need for debate, even though we strongly believe that Houston needs an equal rights ordinance. What we don’t need is a nasty, cynical campaign playing on voters’ fear and ignorance. This great city is bigger than that.

The equal rights ordinance is Propostion One on the November ballot. We urge Houstonians to vote YES.

I’ve been saying a lot of this stuff all along, and I couldn’t agree more. I remain optimistic but not yet confident. Everyone needs to do their part.

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2 Responses to Endorsement watch: What needs to be said

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    Truthfully, I think the whole thing is much ado about nothing, for the most part. Since restrooms don’t have urinals (as far as I know), then every woman or every person-who-feels-like-a-woman goes into a private stall to take care of business. Nobody is getting an eyeful of anything they don’t expect or want to see in a woman’s bathroom. If there is someone with boy parts who feels like a girl putting on his makeup at the bathroom mirror fully clothed, I don’t really see the problem

    Having said that, there is something to be said about locker rooms, especially ones with public showers. Just because you feel like a woman, if you still have your boy part, can you see how that might be upsetting for women who actually have female parts? There was a story about something like this at a Planet Fitness this year.


    This is where the anti-HERO folks have a legitimate beef (no pun intended). You take your 13 year old daughter to the gym, and then after swimming, she showers next to someone that has different parts? I guess you could insist that all public shower facilities have private stalls, which would be another government regulation that would increase the cost of doing business, and thus, increase the cost of being a gym member for the public.

    And, just to play Devil’s advocate, let’s reverse things. Say you take your 13 year old son to the gym, and he ends up showering next to someone with girl parts. Do you really expect the 13 year old not to stare intrusively?

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