Almost from the moment that the Houston City Council passed HERO - the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance - last May 28, opponents dedicated to repealing it have been collecting signatures to get a referendum on the November ballot.
The ordinance “prohibits discrimination on the basis of protected characteristics in city employment, city services, city contracting services, housing, public accommodations and private employment.” Included in those protected characteristics are members of LGBT community, and chief among the opposition’s complaints is that the law allows transexuals to use whatever bathroom he or she identifies with. You can see that fear literally writ large across the top of their petition above.
The group, who call themselves the No Unequal Rights Coalition, filed their petition, (photo above left) with 50,000 signatures, more than twice the number needed, July 5. The City Secretary declared 30,000 of them had been verified as Houston voters.
The very next day, Houston’s mayor, Annise Parker, (right) announced the formation of a coalition of legal and advocacy groups that would fight the referendum and educate voters should the issue make it onto the ballot.
"This was not a narrowly-focused, special-interest ordinance. This is something that the business and civic community of Houston was firmly behind, and we fully expect if there is a campaign that it will be a spirited campaign, but we’ll have the same outcome in November as we had around the council table."
Mayor Parker was more than a little courageous during the passage of HERO, ignoring personal insults to herself and her wife and recall threats should the measure pass, but it is unclear whether the HEROpetition group which has decided to challenge No Unequal Rights’ petition is part of the mayor’s coalition or is acting on their own.
From the “About Us” section of the website:
HEROpetition.com is dedicated to shining a light on the public petition process through the open records process in order to allow people to know those who are actively seeking to deprive Houstonians of equal rights.
We are also here to serve the public good by allowing the public to participate in an independent review of the petition to identify fraud or other improper activity that may not otherwise be identified by the limited verification process underway be the City Secretary.
HEROpetition is in the process of publishing all the signatures collected by No Unequal Rightswith the hope of disqualifying enough of them to keep HERO off the ballot. They claim to have evidence of fraud both in the collection of signatures and in the signatures themselves:
"There is documented evidence of deliberate voter fraud that may actually put petition signers at risk of criminal prosecution, including video of a petition gatherer telling people they could register to vote and immediately sign the petition - a direct violation of Texas Election Law."
Mayor Parker seemed to echo that suspicion in a recent statement:
"Houston does not discriminate, Houston will not discriminate and Houston will not be fooled by misinformation, hyperbole - I would use the word "lies" but I’m going to back off from that - and people who are just simply unwilling to read the ordinance for themselves."
HEROpetition is asking Houston citizens to look at it the petition for any evidence of fraud, and gives contact information and instructions on what to do if you find a suspicious entry. No Unequal Rights is predictably outraged.
I love it when Democrats fight back!
I don’t know what to say anymore.