RR Extremists Launch Vicious Assault on Equality in Houston

As our society slowly moves toward treating LGBT people with the dignity and equality all human beings deserve, the reaction of religious-right groups has been almost unhinged. Their leaders have adopted increasingly vitriolic and hateful rhetoric in their desperate attempts to defend discrimination. That fact has been on clear display as the Houston City Council’s Committee on Quality of Life prepared to hold a public hearing today (Wednesday, April 30) on a proposed nondiscrimination ordinance.

The Equal Rights Ordinance, proposed by Mayor Annise Parker, would bar discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, race, religion, military status and other characteristics. The measure includes exemptions for religious organizations (like churches), private clubs and organizations, and small businesses.

The proposed ordinance is so mainstream that the Greater Houston Partnership — a major regional business group that promotes economic development in the region — has endorsed it. From the Partnership’s website:

“The Partnership believes that Houston is already a great city that is welcoming and embraces diversity. Adopting the ordinance now is essentially a reaffirmation of who we are and what we believe: that all Houstonians should be able to live, work and enjoy our great city.”

But religious-right opponents of the ordinance appear determined to make Houston look like an intolerant bastion of hate and fear. One of their most vicious attacks is the attempt to frighten parents into believing the measure will give free rein to men who want to dress in women’s clothing so they can molest little girls in women’s restrooms. Conservative Republicans of Texas (CRT), run by Houston’s notorious anti-gay extremist Steven Hotze, is even calling the ordinance the “Sexual Predator Protection Act.”

One repugnant purpose of that language is to suggest that transgendered people are inherently a danger to children (much as gay and lesbian people are often portrayed as likely child molesters). But ordinance opponents also hope their audience lacks common sense. Children — or anyone else, for that matter — would be no more vulnerable to assault in a public restroom under the proposed ordinance than they are right now. Does Hotze seriously believe sexual predators are waiting for this ordinance to pass so they can show up at the local shopping mall dressed in drag and assault women and children in the public restrooms? Of course not. This is simply a red herring designed to scare people.

But religious-right groups clearly think this is the best way to attack the proposed ordinance. And for good measure they’re also trying to frighten people of faith into thinking they’re at threat as well. An email blast today from Texas Values — the lobby arm of Plano-based Liberty Institute — insists that the measure is “a threat to public safety, Christians, and the private sector of Houston.” The group calls a similar measure passed last year in San Antonio an “anti-Christian ordinance.” In fact, many Christians spoke out in support of the San Antonio ordinance. Clergy planning to testify at today’s public hearing will also demonstrate that Christians and other people of faith support Houston’s proposed ordinance as well.

An email from the Houston Area Pastor Council (HAPC) — headed by hate-monger Dave Welch, who calls Mayor Parker a “sodomite” — also uses CRT’s “Sexual Predator Protection Act” language. That sneering screed is especially vicious in discussing transgendered people:

“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? The Holy Scriptures state clearly that, ‘…male and female He created them,’ (Gen. 1:27) and we choose to stand with Him and basic biology that sex is determined at conception, identified at birth.”

The very same email astonishingly suggests that discrimination against LGBT in Houston isn’t a problem (and that, if it happens, it would be “legitimate” anyway).

So there you have it. Religious-right activists are desperately defending discrimination and fighting a mainstream measure protecting LGBT people and others from being denied work, housing and services simply because of who they are. But the hateful rhetoric from those same activists is demonstrating why the Houston City Council should pass the Equal Rights Ordinance before it.

4 thoughts on “RR Extremists Launch Vicious Assault on Equality in Houston

  1. Speaking as a Christian, if this proposed ordinance is what these supposedly Christian organizations believe should be so firmly opposed in Houston, then the only fair, Old Testament,Biblical thing to do would be for the entire citizenry of Houston to discriminate against all sinners who live in, work in, or visit Houston—including themselves.

    The New Testament says that all human beings, including Christians, have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The disciple John, in a remark directed straight at his fellow Christians, says,”If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8).

    Yes, LGBT people are sinners—and so are all the rest of us. None of us are perfect, and we have all sorts of warts. Jesus made clear that He was not a proponent of divorce in marriage situations. How many divorced people are there in Houston? Should it be okay for Houston businesses to refuse restaurant service to divorced people? Should it be okay for angry sinners like Dave Welch to buy dress shirts in a men’s clothing store? Maybe we should quit selling clothing to angry people. How many of you are envious of the guy who lives in the palatial house down the street from you or your fellow office worker who just bought a new Mercedes? The Bible says that envy is a sin. I wonder how many Houston citizens have ever experienced envy in their own lives. Maybe the City of Houston should cut off the electricity and water supplies to the homes of envious people as a punishment for their sins?

    You see. This is the kind of thing that is on the minds of the people who are against the proposed ordinance in Houston. They want the proposed ordinance done away with so they will have free legal reign to punish LGBT people for their sins. They never look at their own sins and realize that the condemnation they mete out to others is equally deserved by themselves and all other people. Today it might be the LGBT people they want the freedom to punish and socially sanction. But if you allow this, you have to be aware that it may be you, your wife, or your children they come after next.

    Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals operate on an US vs. THEM Model where THEM is everyone else in the world who does not believe the same “right doctrine” that they do. They are the only righteous people in the world, the only people acceptable to God, and the only “true” Christians.

    In their eyes, as a human being, you are totally defined by THE SIMPLE FACT THAT YOU ARE NOT ONE OF THEM. For example, such people believe that nothing you say can be believed (even if you cite facts) because all people who are NOT ONE OF THEM tend to be liars. What about those facts? Well, if those facts were determined by parties that are NOT ONE OF THEM, then the facts are most likely false—not even a need to go verify them at the library. WHY? It is because the people who run they library and write the books are most likely NOT ONE OF THEM, so you cannot trust the facts down at the library. If you are a United Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopalian, moderate Baptist, northern Baptist, Presbyterian, or whatever else, you are going to Hell when you die. Why? Because you are NOT ONE OF THEM.


    Seriously people. This is the kind of warped, unkind, and unloving religious thinking that is behind the opposition to this ordinance in Houston. And here is all you need to know. It may be the LGBT people this time. However, because you are totally defined by WHO YOU ARE NOT, it may be you they come after next with torches and pitchforks. In their public voice, these people see everyone else’s sins but their own—and your sins deserve punishment in both this life and the next—and they would like to please God by starting that punishment as early as possible—like right now.

  2. Houston is now facing the same situation as San Antonio. In that city, progressive leadership by Mayor Julian Castro and others led to the passage of SA’s Equal Rights Ordinance despite a religious-right campaign against it. I am sure Houston will do the same. I lived in Houston for 23 years and, despite the constant sewer underflow of bigotry from religious extremists there, most Houston citizens supported diversity and human rights and their numbers have greatly increased since I lived there. Thanks to Mayor Annise Parker for her principled and progressive leadership.

  3. Here we go again. The crazies are claiming that a non-discrimination ordinance would somehow endanger women and children.
    The exact some thing was claimed about civil rights laws against racial discrimination. But those laws passed, and people did not run amok.
    And in the large number of cities that already have similar ordinances to the proposed Houston law, women and children seem to be faring no worse than before the laws.