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Houston Equal Rights Ordinance Trial

By The Human Rights Campaign - 2015-02-14

Summary

Jury finds evidence of forgery, but it’s yet to be determined if enough valid signatures remain to send HERO to the ballot.

"The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance is supported by more than 80 current and former elected officials, community and non-profit organizations, who all say it’s an important tool to prevent discrimination"

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The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, responded to the jury’s verdict in a case involving the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) - an important measure passed by the City Council in May of 2014 extending workplace, housing, public contracting, and public accommodation protections to LGBT people in America’s 4th largest city.

Opponents of equality sued following the City’s determination that over half of the signatures on a petition attempting to repeal HERO at the ballot were invalid. Today, the jury found evidence of forgery in several of the petitions, supporting the City’s dismissal of the signatures in question. It is yet to be determined whether this is sufficient to disqualify the measure from reaching the required signature threshold to place HERO on the ballot.

“Protecting people from discrimination, including LGBT people, is about treating people fairly and equally under the law,” said HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse. “When it comes to being able to earn a living, having a place to live, or being served by a business or the government, people should be judged on their merits and not on the basis of who they are.”

The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance is supported by more than 80 current and former elected officials, community and non-profit organizations, who all say it’s an important tool to prevent discrimination. It is also backed by more than 70 local faith leaders, the Greater Houston Partnership, the NAACP, Rice University, LULAC, and the Houston Association of Realtors – just to name a few.

HERO protects workers in both the public and private sectors from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as on the basis of sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, genetic information, and pregnancy. The ordinance strikes a balance by providing exemptions for small business owners and landlords, and protects the constitutional rights of churches and religious organizations.

HRC worked strategically in coalition with elected officials and local community organizations to provide a united front in successfully passing this strong and inclusive ordinance. HRC will continue to work alongside Mayor Annise Parker and other city leaders as well as Equality Texas, ACLU-Texas, Houston GLBT Political Caucus, Log Cabin Republicans, Out & Equal, Texas Freedom Network and Texans Together to protect this ordinance and ensure it is implemented as soon as possible.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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