HOUSTON, TX - With November just around the corner, Houston's city council needed a hero - or, in this case, HERO ballot language. Passed by the council in May 2014, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance - or HERO - came under attack almost immediately. The main issue: its protection of transgendered men and women using bathrooms with which they gender identify.
A lawsuit led to a back-and-forth fight between the city and the Texas Supreme Court, which seems to have been settled with Wednesday's decision to reword the ballot language. It will now read:
"Proposition 1: [Relating to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.] Are you in favor of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, Ord. No. 2014-530, which prohibits discrimination in city employment and city services, city contracts, public accommodations, private employment, and housing based on an individual's sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, or pregnancy?"
Basically, a 'yes' vote would support HERO, while a 'no' vote would oppose it.
Now that that battle's over, both sides are focusing on Nov. 3's election.
"This election is to affirm to ordinance," said Noel Freeman, an Air Force veteran who supports HERO, "to protect all Houstonians from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations."
On the other side of the issue, Campaign for Houston has already launched a media campaign opposing HERO.
"We're encouraging people to vote no on what we call the bathroom ordinance," said Campaign for Houston spokesman Jared Woodfill.