The ‘Right’ to Discriminate Puts Everyone at Risk

by Dan Quinn

Religious-righters opposed to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) have been lying to voters with claims that the nondiscrimination measure will allow sexual predators to attack women and children in public restrooms. The campaign for HERO, Houston Unites, debunks that vicious claim here.

But HERO opponents also say that the ordinance violates their supposed right to discriminate, for religious reasons, against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Let’s put aside, for a moment, the truth that discriminating against people because of who they are and whom they love is simply wrong. Beyond that, the reality is that once you decide legalized discrimination against LGBT people is OK, you are leaving open the door to discrimination against anyone.

In fact, if you let HERO opponents talk long enough, that truth comes tumbling out of their mouths. Here’s Houston pastor Becky Riggle speaking against HERO during a City Council public hearing last year. Councilmember Ellen Cohen did a very good job getting to the truth — that Riggle and other HERO opponents want the right to discriminate against anyone. Here’s part of the exchange between them from the video above:

Councilmember Cohen: “If I’m asking for service, and my faith is something that troubles them, they have a right to refuse me service?

Becky Riggle: “Yes.”

Councilmember Cohen: “So you’re saying, yes, they do have a right to refuse me service as someone of the Jewish faith?”

Becky Riggle: “No, I’m not saying… Yes, I am saying that, but that is not the issue that we’re talking about today.”

That might not be what she wanted to be talking about, but that was the truth.

HERO protects all Houstonians by banning discrimination due to race, disability, gender, religion, military status, sexual orientation, gender identity and more – in employment, housing and restaurants and stores. We support it because we think all people should be treated fairly and equally under the law. All people should have the opportunity to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families without the fear of being legally fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance.

Discrimination is wrong. Period.

Support HERO by voting YES on Proposition 1 on November 3.

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