Governor, Lt. Governor Shamefully Pandered to Intolerance

November 4, 2015

The deceitful, fear-based campaign used to defeat the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance at the polls on Tuesday will seriously damage the reputation of the City of Houston and the State of Texas, Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said today.

Miller said that danger is particularly high because of the way Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick waded into the election over the local ordinance.

“It was disturbing to see our state’s two highest elected leaders shamefully peddling lies and scare tactics,” Miller said. “Their political pandering has branded Texas as hostile to basic human rights and inclusiveness. In lending the prestige of their offices to such a shockingly deceitful campaign, Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Patrick aligned themselves with some of this state’s most extreme and intolerant voices. That can only hurt the state’s reputation among anyone or any business that might want to move here.”

The rhetoric used by HERO opponents was nothing short of incendiary. At one campaign event, a major funder of the anti-HERO campaign wielded a sword while demanding that gay and transgender people be driven from Houston. Another leader declared that opponents of the nondiscrimination ordinance were fighting “the presence of evil” in Houston. But the anti-HERO campaign was based largely on a single tactic: scaring voters into thinking the nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people would allow “troubled men” and sexual predators to assault women and girls in public bathrooms.

Gov. Abbott called for the defeat of HERO, even tweeting “no men in women’s bathrooms” on Monday. In addition, Lt. Gov. Patrick helped fund the anti-HERO campaign and even appeared in a television ad featuring the “bathroom” scare.

But law enforcement and other public officials in cities and states with laws similar to HERO say they had not seen problems with sexual predators using the measures to harass or assault people in public restrooms.

Despite the setback in Houston, supporters of equality will continue to fight to protect all Texans from discrimination, Miller said.

“No one should have to live in fear of losing their job, being evicted from their home or being denied public services simply because of who they are or whom they love,” Miller said. “Texas is better than that, but it’s clear that fear remains a powerful, deceitful weapon for opponents of equality.”