The fight for equality in Houston is coming down to the wire. The Houston City Council is set vote on the proposed Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) on Wednesday, May 14. This ordinance would protect individuals from discrimination based on sex, race, color ethnicity, national original, age, familiar status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity or pregnancy. The measure prohibits discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation.

Houston is the only major city in Texas not to have such an ordinance. But religious-right pressure groups are promoting a campaign of fear and lies in support of discrimination. So right now, passage of this ordinance is not a slam dunk: we’re hearing from several members of the City Council that the vote could be very close.

If you live in Houston and support the HERO, then this is the moment your involvement could be most effective. The best way to make sure the ordinance passes is to call City Council members to let them know where you stand. With their phones ringing off the hook, City Council members will hear a clear message: Houstonians won’t tolerate discrimination.… Read More

During public testimony before the Houston City Council on Tuesday, religious-right activists and spokespeople railed against the proposed Equal Rights Ordinance. The ordinance would protect Houstonians — regardless of race, gender, religion, military status and a long list of other characteristics — from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. But religious-right activists focused their opposition almost exclusively on nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people.

They denounced the LGBT community as “evil” while at the same time insisting that LGBT people don’t really face discrimination. And they bizarrely complained that the ordinance would discriminate against them if they couldn’t discriminate against people they don’t like. Many identified themselves as Christians and declared that the ordinance would limit their religious freedom — but churches are exempt and, in any case, we don’t recall Jesus turning away gay folks when he fed the multitudes.

But the most common themes in the attacks on the ordinance remain sex and fear. Opponents have suggested over and over that transgender “predators” will be stalking little girls in public restrooms if the City Council passes the ordinance. Some religious-right groups even call the ordinance the “Sexual Predator Protection Act.” Texas Values, lobby arm of the religious-right group Liberty Institute, builds on that theme by calling the ordinance “a threat to public safety.”

Texas Values also… Read More

Yesterday the Houston City Council’s Quality of Life Committee heard the first public comments on the mayor’s proposed Equal Rights Ordinance, which bars discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. Guess what happened? Supporters outnumbered opponents more than two-to-one, with an especially strong showing in support from Houston’s religious community. That’s what we call a success.

But this wasn’t the only chance to tell council members that Houstonians strongly support equality for all: the full City Council will convene to hear from the public on the ordinance. This is the most effective way to show the council your support for the ordinance, so sign up to testify before the council today! (And do note — you must sign up ahead of time.) Read More

Heads up, Houston: you’re on the verge of joining other major Texas cities in passing an equal rights ordinance. If it passes, Houstonians will finally be protected from discrimination in employment, housing and public services.

But we’ve got some work to do, and that’s where you come in.

This Wednesday, April 30, the Houston City Council’s Quality of Life committee will take public comments. It’s important for supporters of Mayor Annise Parker’s Equal Rights Ordinance to speak out at the hearing. Can you help?

The process for speaking at the committee meeting is simple:

Clear your calendar for 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 30. Prepare and practice a one- to two-minute statement in support of the Equal Rights Ordinance. Make sure to thank the Mayor and the City Council for their leadership on this issue. On Wednesday, get to City Hall Chambers at 901 Bagby St., 2nd floor (Google Map here), and find the Quality of Life committee meeting. Add your name to the sign-up sheet at front of the room. Wait for your name to be called, share your statement, and be proud to support equal rights in Houston.

It’s particularly important that the committee hear stories from Houstonians who have personally… Read More

Earlier today, San Antonio Express-News reporter Kolten Parker live-tweeted a meeting of the paper’s editorial board with the three Republican candidates in the state Senate District 25 race.

Here’s a picture:

At @mySA editorial board meeting with @DonnaCampbellTX, Mike Novak and @Elisa_Chan, candidates for #SD25 #txlege pic.twitter.com/Vk7VHRmgeh

— Kolten Parker (@KoltenParker) January 24, 2014

The contest is between incumbent state Sen. Donna Campbell, former San Antonio city councilor Elisa Chan and former Bexar County commissioner Mike Novak.

At one point, Sen. Campbell said this:

Campbell, who has four adopted children, says removing barriers to adoption is a social issue she plans to work on #txlege

— Kolten Parker (@KoltenParker) January 24, 2014

An overwhelming majority of Texans would likely be in favor of Sen. Campbell’s plan. Who could possible be against making it easier for parentless children to find a loving home?

But then, a follow-up question:

Should gay couples be allowed to adopt? Chan: No, Campbell: No, Novak: I'm not the judge #txlege

— Kolten Parker (@KoltenParker) January 24, 2014

And… Read More