Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s “Houston ‘Equal Rights’ Ordinance” (HERO), which she rammed through City Council last year and then refused to let the People of Houston vote on, will be on the Texas ballot on 3 November courtesy of the Texas Supreme Court. We can expect a deluge of rhetoric between now and then from both sides of this contentious issue.
The Parkrerites contend that the HERO is a broad guarantee of equal rights for all minorities. But Article I Section 3a of the Texas Constitution guarantees that “Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed, or national origin.” So Parker’s HERO is redundant except for demanding special rights for queers.
Former head of the Harris County Republican Party Jared Woodfill and his cohorts have focused on the communal rest rooms as the indigestible morsel in the ordinance. But I think they may be overplaying their hand. It is unlikely that this ordinance will increase the prevalence of pedophiles, although it may encourage them to practice their perversion in more out-of-sight locations. This is not to say communal rest rooms in Houston is not a bad idea, because it is a very bad idea.
I lived for six years in Japan when I worked for RCA in the 70s. It was not uncommon – and I’m sure it’s still not – for bars and restaurants to have a communal rest room. But this is a culture in which every small town has a communal bath house. The Japanese culture is steeped in Confucianism, which proscribes public displays of emotion. In Confucian tradition, the public display of the human body has nothing to do with sex. Sex is a private affair and is not even thought about in public.
European culture, on the other hand, still retains vestiges of Victorianism. The reason we have always insisted on separate rest rooms for the two sexes is to protect the culturally induced modesty of women. I recognize that Annise Parker, who proudly flaunts her sexual relationship with another woman, has no modesty. But the overwhelming majority of women and girls do, and that modesty is offended when a man walks into a rest room while they are using it.
But the most egregious fault with HERO is that it authorizes the city of Houston to fine a business or industrial entity $5,000 for failure to comply with the arbitrary moral / religious / philosophical views of city hall. This is in direct violation of Article I Section 19 of the Texas Constitution, which states: “No citizen of this State shall be deprived of life, liberty, property, privileges or immunities, or in any manner disfranchised, except by due course of the law of the land.” The public imposition of the sexual perversions of a city mayor is hardly the “law of the land.”
I should like to propose a new HERO, the ‘Houston Economic Rights Ordinance.’ The Houston Economic Rights Ordinance should state that the city of Houston is prohibited from interfering with the moral and ethical conduct of any legally established business entity within the city of Houston. Specifically, the city of Houston should be prohibited from imposing any fines, incarceration, or any other penalty on the practices of a business or manufacturing enterprise that do not directly impact the health and physical safety of the People of Houston.
The city government is there to protect us, not to impose on us their views of morality – or their lack thereof.