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.