…that follows closely the language of those promoted by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) organizations like the Human Rights Campaign all over the nation. In fact, Houston City Attorney David Feldman confirmed that the HRC was involved in the drafting of Parker’s ordinance just as they were in the infamous San Antonio ordinance. While Mayor Parker initially tried to sell it as protections for race, disability and veterans, due to the intense and negative public response she has finally admitted this is “about my life.”
Why a Referendum?
When an elected body fails to act in accordance with the will of the people and/or their oath of office to uphold and defend the Texas and U.S. Constitutions, citizens in Houston as well as most cities in Texas have the right to engage in what is called “Legislation By The People,” through “direct legislation by the initiative and referendum.”
There are two forms generally used:
1. Initiative – This process amends the city ordinances by petition of the people if qualified for the ballot properly and passed by a majority vote of the citizens casting a ballot. This does NOT change the city charter, nor does it necessarily repeal an existing ordinance.
2. Referendum – This is the means by which the people can directly repeal an ordinance passed by the City Council, if an adequate number of qualified signatures are received within the deadline of 30 days after it takes effect or is published (after adoption). The city council must then either repeal the ordinance or place the measure on the next city election ballot for the vote of the people. A simple majority prevails and if achieved the ordinance is repealed.
a. IMPORTANT – Once the necessary signatures are filed with the city and certified (again, must be within 30 days), the ordinance is immediately suspended and is no longer in effect pending the vote of city council or the people!
Over 100,000 emails and thousands of calls were received by Houston City Council members regarding Mayor Parker’s so-called “Equal Rights Ordinance” that is in fact an UNequal Rights Ordinance. Reports from council members themselves were that the calls ran from 4 to 1 to as high as 10 to 1 against the ordinance. Every rationale given by Parker and her City Attorney David Feldman for this were refuted completely by the myriad legal information provided by the pastors’ coalition and many others, proving there was no need for this except to satisfy Parker’s LGBT national allies.
With city council members C.O. Bradford, Ellen Cohen, Stephen Costello, Robert Gallegos, Richard Nguyen, Ed Gonzalez, David Robinson, Larry Green, Jerry Davis and Mike Laster patently ignoring both law and the will of the citizens, the referendum serves as the immediate (however certainly not the only) remedy to such public malfeasance.
READ IT FOR YOURSELF
Final Ordinance language adopted by Houston City Council on May 28, 2014
(Council members who voted FOR the ordinance were: C.O. Bradford, Ellen Cohen, Stephen Costello, Robert Gallegos, Richard Nguyen, Ed Gonzelez, David Robinson, Larry Green, Jerry Davis, Mike Laster)
(Council members who voted AGAINST the ordinance were: Dwight Boykins, Jack Christie, Michael Kubosh, Dave Martin, Oliver Pennington, Brenda Stardig)
Alliance Defending Freedom’s legal analyses as requested by Houston Area Pastor Council:
Analysis of Proposed NOD (for first draft ordinance)
Analysis of Removal of Section 17-51(b) (for revised draft)
The Threat to Women and Girls Illustrated – case examples around the nation
MAYOR PARKER’S “EQUAL RIGHTS” ORDINANCE THREATENS OUR WOMEN AND CHILDREN
All discrimination protections for the “Protected Characteristics” in the new ordinance CURRENTLY EXIST for city government. All other legitimate anti-discrimination areas in private employment, housing, etc. exist in state and/or federal law. This ordinance only serves to impose sexual orientation, gender identy/expression and genetic information as protected classes AS BEING EQUAL TO RACE, RELIGION AND SEX onto the private sector of Houston, with centralized power of investigation, fines and punishment under one person – the Mayor*. There is NO evidence of ANY systemic discrimination EVEN if we accepted the premise of sexual orientation, etc. (*The Mayor appoints the City Attorney, to whom the Director of the Office of Inspector General is directly accountable and who is SOLELY in charge of investigations)
- It will by government decree open thousands of women’s restrooms, showers and girls locker rooms in the city to biological males! Predators and peepers can use it as cover to violate our women and children! There are actual cases in other cities around the nation that validate these concerns. A biological male simply claims that his “perceived gender identity” is female, walk into a women’s restroom, locker room or shower and under this ordinance would be protected.
- As has already happened in other states, business owners will be forced to violate their faith, beliefs and consciences. How soon will it be before a photographer, florist, wedding facility and others are prosecuted for declining to provide service for a same-sex ceremony even if their faith convictions are violated?
- It is patently offensive to claim that a sexual lifestyle or gender confusion are equal to skin color, AND to assert that these sexual lifestyles are a class that has suffered any documented discrimination in employment, housing and public facilities that rises to the need of imposing this extensive policy over all.
- Where is the “emergency”? This ordinance is SIMPLY NOT NEEDED. What is the compelling government interest in creating a broad scope of investigative power over the private sector and creating serious legal jeopardy? There is no evidence of any discrimination that rises to the level of imposing the threat of fines and punishment on ALL citizens and MOST businesses in the city.
- Protections against wrongful discrimination based on legitimate protected classes such as race, ethnicity, religion and sex are already specified in state and federal law. Employment and Housing in particular are highly regulated and scrutinized already, so again – why is this necessary?
- The definition of “Gender Identity” is infinitely vague. “…an individual’s innate identification, appearance, expression or behavior as either male or female, although the same may not correspond to the individual’s body or gender assigned at birth.” How do you protect against “identification, appearance, expression or behavior” discrimination? Who is the arbiter?
- This leaves businesses vulnerable to prosecution and litigation they cannot avoid. All it takes is for a person to claim they were discriminated against because of an “identity” or “expression” or “behavior” that may or may not be even visible and businesses – and eventually churches – are defendants under city investigation. You cannot defend against what you cannot define.
- Why should the 99% of the population who are NOT gender confused be forced to accommodate the less than 1% who are? Why is the physical and emotional safety of women and children who accept their birth gender less important than the tiny few who suffer from what has always been considered a psychological disorder? It is clear that from the beginning, “He created them male and female” (Gen. 1:27) and we choose to stand with God.
- Places inappropriate investigative authority under the office City Attorney as compared to its purpose under city ordinance. The Office of Inspector General, under the authority of the City Attorney, currently only has jurisdiction within city government with specific limits. It was created by Mayor Parker to investigate “allegations of employee misconduct” (EO 1-39, 3/2011)FOR CITY GOVERNMENT NOT THE ENTIRE PRIVATE SECTOR. “The city attorney shall represent the city in all actions and proceedings…. He shall represent the city in all other legal matters…he shall render opinions and advice to the mayor or city council…” This ordinance adds criminal investigations to OIG without regard to its ability or qualifications to perform such actions. It gives the City Attorney prosecutorial powers completely unintended for that office.