POLITICS

Voters Will Decide On Houston's LGBT Equal Rights Ordinance

Opponents have been pushing for a vote for more than a year.

Houston voters will determine the fate of the city's equal rights ordinance in a November referendum, the city decided Wednesday.

The decision comes less than two weeks after the Texas Supreme Court ruled the Houston City Council must put the ordinance, also known as HERO, on the November ballot or repeal it.

The ordinance, championed by Mayor Annise Parker (D) and passed by the City Council in 2014, extended the city's law to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Social conservatives and some pastors have opposed it even after Parker removed a provision that would have allowed transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with.

Parker, who is openly gay, released a statement after the court's decision, saying she expects voters to uphold the ordinance.

"No matter the color of your skin, your age, gender, physical limitations, or sexual orientation, every Houstonian deserves the right to be treated equally," said Parker, who is in the last year of her final term. "Our citizens fully support and understand this and I have never been afraid to take it to the voters."

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) praised the court for allowing voters to have the final say on the ordinance.

Earlier this week, a group of pastors opposing the ordinance sued Parker for legal fees, claiming the city improperly rejected a petition to subject the law to a referendum. The pastors are also seeking damages over an incident related to the ordinance last year when the city attorney issued subpoenas for their sermons.

With the law now on the ballot, many are using the hashtag #BeyBeAHERO and calling on Houston native Beyoncé to encourage her fellow citizens to vote to keep the law. 

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