Think Progress reports:
After many hours of testimony from over 200 speakers, the Houston City Council voted 11-6 to approve the Equal Rights Ordinance, which creates nondiscrimination protections for many classes, including sexual orientation and gender identity. Houston was one of the only large cities in the country that had no municipal nondiscrimination policy.
During the debate, supporters of the bill spoke to alliances across groups, noting how the ordinance would protect following identity classifications: sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, and pregnancy. Opponents argued that the protections would impose on religious beliefs, forcing individuals to violate their own religious beliefs by serving, as an example, a marrying same-sex couple. They also asked that the ordinance be put to a city-wide vote instead of being approved by the Council.
The ordinance’s protections will extend to employment, housing, and public accommodations.
Congrats to Mayor Annise Parker and all who worked on the bill. Opponents yesterday pounded repeatedly on the notion that transgender protections would promote voyeurs in bathrooms, despite there being no evidence whatsoever of that ever happening. Thank goodness rationality and fairness prevailed. An anti-gay official is threatening a recall effort against Mayor Parker; so stay tuned.