Houston Faith Leader on How Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance Protects Religious Liberty

Rabbi Roy Walter • Rabbi Emeritus, Congregation Emanu El

RabbiWalterSqRabbi Roy Walter, Rabbi Emeritus at Congregation Emanu El in Houston, has been proud to call Houston his spiritual and family home for the past 45 years. He is a husband, a father, and a grandfather – as well as a proud supporter of HERO who is encouraging all Houstonians to join him in voting YES on 1 this November.

Rabbi Walter’s entire 45-year rabbinic career has been in Houston. “I know this city, and I’ve devoted a large portion of my rabbinate to helping build the social fabric of this community,” he said.

Rabbi Walter is also a past president and life board member of Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston, which is dedicated to strengthening the bonds among people of all faiths. From that experience, Rabbi Walter said, he grew to more deeply understand his core values. “We know there are differences among us, but we also know that at heart we share basic values of respect.”

Through decades of religious leadership, Rabbi Walters said that he’s come to learn that “the moral fabric of our society is shaped not only by our private spiritual practices, but also by the values embodied in our laws as a community.”

He explained that that’s why more than 70 faith leaders from across Houston signed on to a letter supporting the passage of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance last year. “It’s why I and other clergy from diverse faith traditions – Jewish, Christian and many others – are standing against efforts to repeal that ordinance today,” Rabbi Walters said.

Rabbi WalterWhat all these faiths have in common, Rabbi Walter explained, is a “commitment to the dignity of every human being, which means treating each and every member of our community fairly, equally and with respect.”

That’s what HERO is all about. Rabbi Walters explained:

“This ordinance extends these values and protections to all the citizens of the city without imposing one set of religious beliefs over those of others. I recognize that there are honest differences on these issues within and among the religious communities of Houston. These are issues for people of faith to reconcile within our faith communities. That is the essence of religious liberty.”

In the meantime, though, the Rabbi said the Equal Rights Ordinance is vital because it ensures that no one in Houston would live in fear of being turned away from a job, denied a place to live, or refused public services simply because of who they are, whom they love, or what they believe.

“We are all God’s children,” Rabbi Walter summed up. “Regardless of our religious beliefs, our race or ethnicity, our sex or age, our sexual orientation or gender identity. We all have the right to live our lives free from discrimination.

If you or a faith leader you know would like to join our Faith Leaders Unite for HERO Coalition, you can do so by clicking here.