Houston’s Proposed Bathroom Ordinance for Transgenders ‘Endangers Women and Girls,’ Group Says

Melanie Arter | August 26, 2015 | 11:11am EDT
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(AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – A group opposed to a proposed ordinance that would allow transgendered people to use any bathroom they consider consistent with their gender identity has launched a radio campaign in Houston, Texas, to defeat the so-called “bathroom ordinance.”

Campaign for Houston, which was organized to defeat the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), kicked off its campaign, called No Men in Women’s Bathrooms!, on Monday.

The bathroom ordinance was part of Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s effort to extend discrimination protections to the LGBT community through HERO. It specified that “no business open to the public could deny a transgender person entry to the restroom consistent with his or her gender identity,” the Houston Chronicle reported on May 14, 2014.

“Parker’s Bathroom Ordinance would force businesses and public establishments to allow troubled men, or men who want to start trouble, to use women’s public bathrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities. This endangers women and girls and places them in harm’s way,” Campaign for Houston spokesman Jared Woodfill said in a press release.

“There are 8345 registered and convicted sexual predators in Harris County. This just scratches the surface of this dangerous problem. These men could use this ordinance as a legal shield to threaten our mothers, wives and daughters,” Woodfill added.

A clause in the original ordinance would have exempted businesses from the ordinance in cases where they had a “good faith belief” that someone was disingenuous about his or her claim of being transgender, the Houston Chronicle reported. The LGBT community expressed outrage at the time about the clause.

“At one point in time, there was a good faith defense to the businesses,” Woodfill told CNSNews.com “That was removed by the mayor and council – it was amended – so private businesses no longer have that defense available to them under the ordinance.”

According to Woodfill, the group collected signatures in an effort to let voters decide on the issue. After the signatures were challenged, the case went before the Texas Supreme Court, which ruled that the group had collected enough signatures to put the issue to a vote, which will take place on Nov. 3 this year.

The group faced another challenge though when the city council crafted ballot language, which the group said was “inconsistent with the city charter.”

According to Woodfill, the ballot language said, “‘If you’re opposed to the ordinance, vote yes. If you’re for the ordinance, vote no.’ That’s completely inconsistent with what the charter says how it should be framed.”

Campaign for Houston went back to the Texas Supreme Court to force the city to change the language of the ballot initiative, and they won.

“We took that issue to the Supreme Court, and they recently said, ‘No, you have to do it the way that we had argued,’ that if you are opposed to the ordinance, you vote no. If you’re for it, you vote yes,” Woodfill told CNSNews.com.

“So that has been rectified now by the Supreme Court, but again we felt like the mayor was being deceptive and working to trip folks into how to vote on this ordinance, and so for a second time in 30 days, we had to take her back to the Texas Supreme Court to force her to follow the law,” he said. “So now it’s right.

“Now it is if you’re opposed to the ordinance, you vote no, if you’re for the ordinance, you vote yes,” Woodfill added.

The group spent $100,000 for the first two weeks of the radio campaign, and they have an overall budget of just over $2 million for Campaign for Houston.

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