As Election Day approaches, the TV wars over Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance heat up – and opponents of HERO are doing anything they can to scare fair-minded Houstonians with distortions of the truth. Over the weekend, our opponents launched a television ad featuring Lance Berkman, former player for Major League Baseballs’ Houston Astros.
Simply put: There may not be a more blatantly dishonest political ad in America right now.
Let’s set the record straight.
FALSE CLAIM 1: “Proposition 1 would allow troubled men who claim to be women to enter women’s bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms.”
REALITY: Indecent exposure, harassment and assault in restrooms is already illegal. Proposition 1 would not change that. It will not allow men to enter women’s restrooms and it won’t allow someone to escape prosecution for criminal behavior.
This claim is nothing more than a deliberate attack on transgender Houstonians. Transgender people simply want to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity – it’s that simple.
Pastor Rudy Rasmus, representative of the faith coalition in support of a YES vote to Proposition 1, said: “As Christians we believe in treating others as we want to be treated.” That’s exactly what HERO does – ensures that all Houstonians are treated fairly and equally, and part of that is just being able to use the restroom like everyone else.
FALSE CLAIM 2: “It’s better to prevent this danger by closing women’s bathrooms to men rather than waiting for a crime to happen.”
REALITY: It’s already a crime! Women’s restrooms are already closed to men – and anyone who seeks to harm, harass or invade someone else’s privacy. per a 1972 Houston Ordinance.
17 states and hundreds of municipalities have non-discrimination protections like Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance on the books – and none of them have reported problems.
As the Houston Chronicle Editorial Board wrote when they announced their steadfast support of the Houston Unites campaign for a Yes vote to Proposition 1,
The opponents know they cannot come up with reports of transgender women assaulting anyone in public bathrooms after the passage of anti-discrimination ordinances. They don’t exist.
A Sunday article on ThinkProgress seconds the Editorial Board, citing:
Although hundreds of trans-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances have been in force in cities around the country for several decades, there has never been a verifiable, reported instance of a trans person harassing a cisgender person, nor have there been any confirmed reports of male predators ‘pretending’ to be transgender to gain access to women’s spaces and commit crimes against them.
FALSE CLAIM 3: “Proposition 1 is a violation of privacy and discrimination against women.”
REALITY: A YES vote on Proposition 1 actually explicitly protects women from discrimination, as gender is one of the fifteen classes delineated in HERO. Even in today’s world, women and moms continue to face unequal treatment on the job and in public spaces, like shopping malls, restaurants and parks. Prop 1 provides a local tool for women to deal with discrimination based on gender, pregnancy and more.
It’s hard to believe, but before the equal rights ordinance was passed, Houston had no explicit laws protecting women from discrimination on the basis of sex. And since HERO was signed into law last year, 17% of reported discrimination cases were gender-based.
What gets lost in the opposition conversation is that Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance actually provides needed protections to all Houstonians by banning discrimination due to race, disability, gender, and more – in employment, housing and restaurants and stores.
As we close-in on Election Day, it’s important that Houstonians have the facts about Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance so that they can make an informed decision about the YES vote to Proposition 1. To get the truth out, click to share this infographic with your friends and family.